Thursday, February 25, 2010

Perfect fit for Len Barker

The Falcons of Notre Dame College believe they have a perfect fit in former Cleveland Indians pitcher Len Barker. NDC Baseball announced today that Barker has been hired as an assistant coach.

The former Tribe hurler and veteran of 11 Major League seasons is the author of one of the most memorable pitching performances in Indians’ history, a perfect game against the Toronto Blue Jays on May 15, 1981.

“Len brings a wealth of experience and professionalism that will be keys in the ascent of Notre Dame Baseball,” Falcons second-year Head Coach Nick Weisheipl said. “In addition, we are very fortunate to have someone as recognizable as Len to help promote the program and the College.”

Barker’s life in baseball has included 20 years of coaching youth baseball. He also coached three years at the Galloway School in Atlanta in the mid-90s. Over the last 10 years, he has operated a private business in northeast Ohio while working part-time for the Indians.

Barker pitched for Cleveland from 1979-83, racking up 56 wins for the Indians. His Major League career began in Texas in 1976. In addition to pitching for the Rangers (1976-78) and Indians, Barker also pitched for Atlanta (1983-85) and Milwaukee (1987).

The 6-foot-5 right-hander tossed his perfect game, one of just 18 in the 135-year history of Major League Baseball, in his third season with Cleveland after having won 19 games and leading the American League in strikeouts, with 187, in 1980.

In his gem against the Blue Jays, Barker struck out 11 batters, all on swinging strikes. He did not go to a three-ball count on any of the 27 batters he faced that evening. At the time, his outing marked the 10th perfect game in history of baseball and the first in the designated-hitter era.

Later in the 1981 season, one which was marred by a 50-day MLB players’ strike, Barker pitched before 72, 0866 Indians fans in the 1981 All-Star Game, played at Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium. He tossed two scoreless innings in that game, his lone appearance in the Midsummer Classic.

With NDC Baseball, which was instituted in 2005, Barker will be an assistant coach.

“My motivation is to help and teach our young student-athletes and get Notre Dame to a championship,” Barker said.

The Falcons’ season started last weekend; NDC went 3-1 in a four-game series at Pikeville (Ky.). On Feb. 27, Notre Dame’s season continues in Winter Haven, Fla., where the team is slated to play a 10-game tournament schedule against colleges and universities from across the United States.

Barker, 54, resides in Geauga County. He and his family have lived in northeast Ohio since 1997.

Courtesy of Sports Information Director Skip Snow

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