University of Illinois at Chicago, Yankees center fielder If baseball had a scholar-athlete award, Granderson would have won it in 2011. Among the top 10 finishers on the MVP ballot in either league last year, he's the only one known to be a college graduate. Granderson signed with the Tigers after his junior season at UIC but returned to finish his degree in December 2003.
Brains and brawn
Baseball has been described as the thinking man’s game. Yet, a FOXSports.com study found that only around 4 percent of current major leaguers have earned their college degrees. Here is a sampling of them. — Jon Paul Morosi
St. Joseph’s (Pa.), Rockies starter Moyer, 49, has earned a place on distinctive baseball lists by the mere fact that he’s still pitching in the big leagues. Well, here is one more: Moyer graduated from St. Joseph’s in 1985. Rockies teammate Troy Tulowitzki would have been a fussy guest had Moyer invited him to his graduation party; Tulo was not yet 1 year old in the spring of ’85.
Vanderbilt, Mets outfielder The Mets’ pinch-hitter extraordinaire has firsthand experience at two of the nation’s finest institutions. He began his college career at Columbia before transferring to Vanderbilt, where he earned his degree. “I loved Columbia,” Baxter told The New York Times. “But I couldn’t pass up the chance to play in the SEC.”
Notre Dame, Brewers closer The most famous line in Axford’s bio has to do with his stint as a bartender, when his baseball future didn’t appear as promising as it does now. But he also holds a film degree from Notre Dame and puts it to use by making annual Oscar picks. He’s one of baseball’s wittiest tweeters (@JohnAxford).
Komazawa University, Angels reliever Takahashi graduated from one of the oldest universities in Japan. According to the school’s website, the history of Komazawa, which is near Tokyo, traces back to the establishment of a seminary for monks of the Soto sect of Zen Buddhism in 1592.
California, Cardinals outfielder Craig played four seasons in Berkeley, where his teammates included future major leaguers Brandon Morrow, Tyson Ross and Brennan Boesch. Craig earned his degree in social welfare. “When baseball ends, I’m sure I’ll find something to do,” he told USA Today last year. “And I’ll be prepared.”
Virginia, Giants reliever Born in Puerto Rico, Lopez grew up in the Washington D.C., area after his father transferred there while working as an FBI agent. According to the Giants’ press guide, Lopez studied psychology at UVA because he wanted to learn how to maintain consistency in baseball. Yet, Lopez isn’t the highest-ranking psychology expert in his own household: His wife, Renee, has a Ph.D. in the same discipline from the University of Tennessee.
John Mayberry Jr., Sam Fuld, Jed Lowrie
Mayberry: Stanford, Phillies outfielder Fuld: Stanford, Rays outfielder Lowrie: Stanford, Astros shortstop No wonder the 2004 Cardinal won the Pacific-10 Conference title: Mayberry, Fuld and Lowrie all played on the team, and each came away with a degree. Mayberry and Lowrie studied political science, Fuld economics. Twenty years from now, they might be running a baseball team — or the country.
Michigan, Diamondbacks reliever Putz hadn’t completed his undergraduate coursework at Michigan when the Mariners made him a sixth-round pick in the 1999 draft. He’s since earned more than $20 million as a big-league pitcher, but Putz (a devoted Wolverines football fan) wanted to finish what he started in Ann Arbor. In December 2010, at age 33, he received his undergraduate degree in kinesiology.
William & Mary, Rays infielder Rhymes starred at William & Mary on a team with his twin brother Jonathan while preparing for a career in medicine. Rhymes postponed plans to take the MCAT after a standout summer in the Cape Cod League, but he still earned a molecular biology/pre-medicine degree — with honors. Bonus fact: Rhymes took violin lessons when he was young.
Bowling Green State University, Rays reliever Badenhop played four seasons of baseball at BGSU and didn’t neglect his classroom obligations: He graduated magna cum laude with a degree in economics. Badenhop comes from an academic family; his father, Dr. Dalynn Badenhop, is director of cardiac rehabilitation at the University of Toledo Medical Center.
Yale, Diamondbacks reliever Breslow has been called “The Smartest Man in Baseball,” and it’s difficult to argue with that moniker. He graduated from Yale in 2002 with a degree in molecular biophysics and biochemistry. The left-hander founded the Strike 3 Foundation in 2008 to raise awareness and funds for childhood cancer research.