Center fielder Josh Cox ’08 has found himself on campus a year longer than he expected. After starring on the field for the Elis last year, he has returned to campus to do community outreach for the Yale Athletics Department — and to train in pursuit of a professional baseball career.
Cox was the first Yale baseball player to start every game — 45 total — of his senior season. He was a unanimous 2008 First Team All-Ivy selection, he won the William Neely Mallory Award as Yale’s top graduating senior male athlete and he set University records with 191 at-bats and 72 hits in 2008.
Cox entered the 2008 Major League Basbeball draft hoping to receive a phone call from a major league team to join a minor league camp. Although three of his teammates were drafted, Cox’s phone never rang. So he saw it as a chance to try something new.
With the MLB draft’s window of opportunity closed for a year, Cox found an open window in Teach For America.
Cox spoke in a phone interview about his Yale baseball career, his involvement with TFA and a potential professional baseball career.
QDoes your family support your endeavors?
A: Yeah, my parents are both really behind it. They might be more gung ho about it than I am! (Laughs)
Q: Who is your biggest fan?
A: Probably my little sister Ebony. After the games she would always call me, and she’d want to talk about it. She’s 12 — she calls me after her basketball games. She’s always really been all for me.
Q: What are you doing in the mean time?
A: Teach for America. I was a teacher — I taught ninth-grade summer school this summer in Phoenix, Ariz. I was going to go to Carver High in New Orleans [in the fall] until I decided that I still had the itch to play. I knew I needed to give it a shot while I still could or I’d regret it forever.
Q: How are you training?
A: I’ve been training this whole time. That’s actually why I came up to New Haven. I work out in the gym, and I come out and hit sometimes. And I find people to throw with. I’m trying to keep in shape and prepare myself.
Q:How did Coach John Stuper influence your baseball experience at Yale?
A: There’s no way you can be a player and not be influenced by your head coach. The whole coaching staff did a lot for me.
Q: Would you play the same position in the pros that you did at Yale?
A: I mean, hopefully. But I might move back into the infield — it’s all sort of up in the air now, you know?
Q: Have you received a minor league assignment yet?
A: I’m not playing minor league ball — I was projected to go between the 15th and 30th rounds, is what I had heard from people. I never got called. This was all happening in such a short span of time, I had to decide whether I was going to do Teach for America. I had four days — a really quick turn-around.
Q: How long are you willing to pursue your dream of playing in the major leagues?
A: I don’t really think you can put a time cap on these types of things. I definitely don’t plan on making it a pipe dream. I just want to explore the chances of my playing. I wasn’t even given an opportunity so I’m trying to create my own opportunity. I’m going to a winter league in Arizona, and from there I hope to get signed.
Q: What was your specialty on the field?
A: I guess I was a good hitter — I hit well and stole lots of bases.
Q: What is one highlight of a game that always stands out to you?
A: We beat the No. 4 team in the country last year [Yale split two games with South Carolina, winning 5-3 and then losing 11-5] — that’s the happiest I’ve ever been. No one in the world expected us to win that game. They were stacked. We went in there and beat them on their own field. I don’t think I’ve ever been as happy as I was that day.
Q: Why did you choose Yale?
A: I chose Yale because I just got this feeling when I came on campus that I belonged. As soon as I stepped on campus I felt that this was the place I needed to be. It felt like the right decision.
Q: How do you feel about having left a legacy at Yale?
A: That’s a tough question to answer. I think what I’ve realized more and more is that institutions continue well without you. As I stepped back on campus a couple weeks ago, Yale was still the same old Yale and people looked just as happy and content as they were when I was there. That [first trip back] was a shock to me — I felt that Yale was home and I felt really integrated into the Yale culture. I’ve left a legacy on the people that I’ve met and the friends that I’ve made. Those people won’t always be at Yale, but the experiences that we’ve had together allow us to have a common legacy.