This is, undoubtedly, the most exciting time of the year for college baseball. The College World Series is underway, and the MLB Draft starts Monday. As teams fight for trips to Omaha and childhood dreams are realized, the question has to be asked: why doesn’t Syracuse have a baseball team? The Orange is one of a small handful of Division I schools without a baseball team, and the list of Power Five schools without one is even shorter (the only others are Colorado, Iowa State and Wisconsin). So, why doesn’t SU field a baseball team every spring, and is making it happen a legitimate possibility?
The argument for: It’s happened before and can happen again
Syracuse had a baseball team for a very long time. Started in 1870, the school fielded a team for over 100 years before disbanding in 1972. Back then, the situation was much more desperate than it would be now. That team often pulled players from the Orange football team and played behind Manley Fieldhouse. The team wasn’t great, often under .500 and only made one College World Series in 1961. Now isn’t then, but the point is that it’s been done before and can be done again.
Syracuse is also the only school in the ACC without a baseball team, and the ACC is consistently one of the best baseball schools in the conference. It wouldn’t be all that difficult to recruit players to come play in the ACC, and the continued integration of the ACC Network would be another plus. College players, and maybe college baseball players more than any other sport, are looking for a chance to be seen at the next level. Syracuse could offer that right away.
Sports are obviously the biggest money-makers a school has, and adding baseball to the repertoire would only make more money for SU. Syracuse fans have proven to be some of the most faithful in the country, and it isn’t hard to believe a baseball team would quickly be loved in Central New York.
The argument against: It’s cold and too hard
Obviously, everything above all sounds fine and dandy until you start to put the numbers together. Syracuse is cold. SU does already field a softball team, but that team has to start its season on an extended road trip which, of course, costs money. Baseball would likely have to do the same thing. If Syracuse did start a team, where would it play? NBT Bank Stadium already has plenty to do with the Chiefs and Junior Chiefs. Would the school build a field of its own, and where would it go?
Recruiting isn’t as simple as listed above, either. Syracuse would be able to offer exposure, but playing in the north does have its disadvantages. SU could build state-of-the-art facilities for players, but the team would still have to practice inside for most of the year, longer than just about any other team would. Outside practice is something Syracuse can’t offer that other schools can.
If SU did start a team, winning and gaining popularity wouldn’t be easy. Playing in one of the best conferences in the country, the Orange would likely be the punching bag of the conference for a while. Fans might come out at first, but losing is hard to sell. Plus, it took over a century to get the SU football and basketball fan bases where they are at now. Those teams still struggle to keep pace in attendance when they’re losing.
It’s all much more complicated than this, but maybe it’s time to have a more complicated discussion about adding a baseball team to Syracuse. In a school with such athletic pride, it doesn’t seemed talked about enough.
Posted: Nathan Dickinson