November 1, 2006

Red’s Hits Leader Inducted

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The same fall Guy Leach ’88 arrived on East Hill as a freshman, the 1984 Detroit Tigers sealed the World Series in Game 5 when legendary outfielder Kirk Gibson hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the 8th. After a dismal 22 years, the Tigers finally made it back to the Fall Classic, only to be bested by the St. Louis Cardinals.
While the World Series trophy won’t be returning to Mo Town for at least another season, Guy Leach is coming back to Cornell on Nov. 3 to accept his nomination into Cornell’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
Unlike most of his Hall of Fame counterparts, Leach was not heavily recruited out of high school. Instead, former coach Ted Thoren took somewhat of a chance when he invited Leach, who had been plagued with injuries his senior year of high school, to play for the Red.
In his freshman season at Cornell, Leach played understudy to senior catcher Beau Metzer ’84, and Leach did not see any playing time until Metzer went down with an injury.
Thoren’s gamble paid off sooner than he probably expected, however, as Leach earned second team All-Ivy honors in just his sophomore season and established himself as a solid hitter, batting .304 for his career.
“Every off-season, I would work on simplifying the mechanics of my swing and fine-tune my mental approach to hitting,” Leach said. “By my senior year, I looked forward to each at bat.”
Leach’s career was characterized by this incessant drive to elevate his game. He started his career on the bench and ended up being the team’s MVP and co-captain in his senior season. He won Cornell’s “Triple Crown” that year with a Ted Williams-esque .394 overall average, 43 RBIs and six homers. He also led the team in hits with 61 — a Cornell record to this day — doubles (10), and total bases (91). These phenomenal statistics made him an unquestioned selection for first team All-Ivy, All-EIBL and the Northeast Regional Division Baseball All-American team.
However, in Leach’s eyes, one accomplishment, in particular, is second to none.
“The single season record for hits epitomized my career goal, which was to be consistent each game,” Leach said.
Leach, like many baseball and football players before and after him, attributes much of his success to mentor, Ted Thoren. During his tenure on the Hill, Cornell’s celebrated two sport coach racked up a school-record 541 wins.
“Mr. Thoren is truly a Cornell ambassador, in every sense of the title.” Leach said. “He not only showed faith in me as a player, but he has been there to offer me meaningful advice since I graduated.”
“Leach was the best catcher I saw in my 29 years as manager.” Thoren said. “He was an outstanding hitter, catcher and a great team leader.”
Leach currently lives in Scranton, Pa. with his three-year-old son and wife.