Courtesy of Sam Rubin '95

Carson Swank ’23 will lead the Yale baseball team as its new captain this year, as the program prepares to welcome a talented first-year class and new members of its coaching staff. 

An explosive contact hitter with strong plate discipline, the 5’10’’ senior third baseman is an offensive star for the Bulldogs and a regular at the heart of the order. Though Swank’s 2019-20 rookie season was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic — playing just 10 games — his outstanding performance that year earned him the title of Best Freshman in the Ivy League by D1Baseball. Last season, Swank hit .256, drove in 27 runs and showed off his speed on the basepaths, going seven-for-seven in stolen base attempts. He also ranked in the top five on the roster for batting average, OPS, RBIs, hits and total bases.

“I am very honored and humbled that I was able to be given the opportunity [to captain the team],” Swank said. “I trust these guys with my life, and I’m very thankful that it seems like they feel the same way. There’s no other group of guys that I’d rather share the field with. For them to trust me with leading them is something that I will carry with me for the rest of my life and especially this season.”

Born and raised in Northern Virginia, Swank began playing baseball when he was five years old. Influenced by his parents’ love of sports, his early upbringing was filled with athletic exploration. In high school, his father had not only swam and ran track, but also played lacrosse, football and baseball. His mother had been part of the track and basketball teams in high school. In addition to playing on the diamond, Swank spent a considerable amount of time on the gridiron and the basketball court as a child.

The Yale senior’s proximity to the nation’s capital also gave him plenty of exposure to the Washington Nationals, a team he eventually became a devoted fan of. He credits this connection, along with “being around family and friends that played [and enjoyed] baseball so much,” as some of the reasons he first began to feel attached to the sport. 

“Everyone’s childhood dream is to play [at] the professional level,” Swank said. “That’s still my aspiration and my career goal. Hopefully, I’m going to do all I can to get to that level and stick with it.”

In pursuit of his objective, Swank decided to focus completely on baseball upon graduating middle school. He played travel baseball and was a star shortstop at Riverside High School in Leesburg, VA. Swank’s skill quickly shone through and he began to receive attention from scouts. One report described him as a “talented middle infield prospect” with speed, solid defensive skills and “sneaky pop,” adding that he could create “consistent, hard contact and [drive] the ball from gap-to-gap.” 

By the end of the 2018 spring season, Swank had been selected to the All-Met Baseball First Team after batting .493 with 17 doubles and 29 RBIs. That same year, the high school junior also committed to Yale. 

“Carson has been one of the greatest friends and teammates I’ve ever had,” infielder Alec Atkinson ’24 told the News. “It’s special how every action he takes displays his love for Yale Baseball … and for each and every one of our guys. Off the field and in our locker room, he’s a great presence to have. The humility he shows and how personable he is makes him a constant joy to be around. Our team is in the best hands possible, and I can’t wait to see him in the captain role this year.”

Swank’s high school tenure was a formative period in his baseball career and provided him with key fundamental skills. He said his time in high school helped “mold [him] into the baseball player [he is]” and “showed [him] the right way to play the game.” He also added that he was grateful for the support he’d received then, especially from head varsity coach Sam Plank, along with varsity assistant coaches Eric Lascomb and Darren Brady. 

The work ethic the infielder developed at Riverside allowed him to transition smoothly into collegiate baseball. Despite the shortened 2020 season, Swank demonstrated his potential and received an Ivy League Rookie of the Week recognition. He had a .341 batting average, drove in 13 runs and had at least one hit in all ten games of the year. The Virginian’s discipline and dedication to the sport also became evident to his teammates. 

“Carson is one of the hardest workers on the team,” right-handed pitcher Carter Kessinger ’23 wrote to the News. “On the field, he’s a great player: a superb defender at third base and a catalyst in the lineup. Off the field, he’s a great friend with a great temperament. He’s going to be a really good captain, especially for this incoming class of first years.”

Last season, the Yale baseball team finished with a 20–18 overall record and were fourth in the Ivy League standings. The 2022 season also marked the end of head coach John Stuper’s thirty-year tenure with the Bulldogs. The former St. Louis Cardinals player was the winningest skipper in program history. 

Reflecting on last season, Swank acknowledged that “there is always room for improvement” and that things had not “[turned] out as well as [the team] had hoped for.” He nevertheless voiced his enthusiasm for the future and said “[he] could not be more excited” to lead the team, noting new changes and the team’s potential this year. 

“The main goal as a team is to win the Ivy League championship, and I think we have a really good shot at that this year,” the captain said about the upcoming season. “We are a more experienced team. [The new coaching staff] has a successful history and a winning mindset, and we’re going to be in good hands with them. Our team chemistry, too, is one of the things that is going to set us apart from other teams.”

This year, the Bulldogs will welcome a talented group of players from the class of 2026 and two new members to its coaching staff. After leading Eastern Connecticut State to an NCAA Division III National Championship last season, Brian Hamm will join Yale as the new head coach. He brings more than two decades of coaching experience and has received numerous accolades, including the 2022 Skip Bertman Coach of the Year Award, given to the top coach at any NCAA level. Chris Wojick, who worked alongside Hamm at Eastern Connecticut State, will also be joining the program as an assistant coach. 

Swank looks forward to working with Hamm and the rest of the coaching staff to prepare the team for the spring season. As a leader both on and off the field, he told the News that he wanted to “create a welcoming atmosphere” in the clubhouse and be remembered as a captain that “tries to do their best to set their team up for success.”

On an individual level, the captain added that his “goal every year is to strive for perfection” and “do better than last year” in all possible categories. He also reiterated his gratitude for the support he has received throughout his baseball journey, including that from his parents and step-parents, coaching staff, teammates and friends.

“Carson being elected captain is no surprise to me,” infielder AJ Gaich ’23 said. “The way he carries himself on and off the field is exactly what you would want out of a captain. For me, personally, he has become my best friend, but I feel like a lot of people look at him as a really close friend because he is that great of a person and cares about every guy in the clubhouse. The future is bright for … Yale Baseball with him at the front leading us this year.”

This summer, Swank remained active on the baseball diamond and played for the Valley Blue Sox, a team in the New England Collegiate Baseball League.

Wei-Ting Shih covers baseball, volleyball and women's basketball as a staff reporter. Originally from Taiwan and Nicaragua, she is a sophomore in Grace Hopper College double-majoring in Ethics, Politics & Economics and History.