“GW has a baseball team?”
“Yes,” ace right-hander Greg Conden answered the inquiring woman in the elevator. “We’ve got uniforms and everything!”
The woman left the elevator, containing a few warm-up clad baseball players, dumbfounded. She didn’t know that Conden’s response was straight from the movie Major League.
In the 1989 flick, pitcher Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn, an ex-convict with his own special sense of humor, leads a hapless Indian team by example. He is tough, he is determined, and he comes through in the clutch.
Conden is GW’s own “Wild Thing,” setting an example for the Colonials with his unique leadership style and dominant pitching performances.
“He sets the tone on the mound,” Conden’s roommate Dennis Gramolini, a senior pitcher for the Colonials, said. “Late in games, when we think we’re down and out, he’ll fire the team up with a great inning.”
Head Coach Tom Walter echoed Gramolini’s sentiment.
“Greg isn’t a ‘ra-ra’ type guy, he leads by example,” he said, adding that Conden keeps the team relaxed with “special” brand of humor.
While his coach would not recount specific instances, Gramolini had countless tales of his friend, including the summer Conden grew his hair into a mullet.
“He walked into the first team meeting of the year with three lines shaved into each side of his head,” Gramolini said. “The team loved it, but coach made it him get rid of it.”
But Conden does not joke when he is on the mound. Last season, the powerful right-hander, who throws in the low 90s, broke GW’s individual season record for victories (11) set in 1979 by Mike Howell. That season he lost only three decisions while holding opponents to a .252 batting average. He boasts a career ERA of 3.73, with 193 career strikeouts and was named to the Atlantic 10’s First Team All-Conference last season.
With three victories this season, Conden will become GW’s career leader in wins with 31. He is currently tied with GW assistant coach Dennis Healy for first in career starts with 47.
Conden has been dominant from his first stint on the mound.
“He showed composure well beyond his years,” Walter said of Conden’s first start in 2000. “He went out there and beat Stetson, who at the time was the No. 14 team in the country. He has shown that composure every time he has taken the ball since.”
Composed or not, Conden still had a lot to learn his rookie year.
“I was late for my first game ever, but I was hungry,” Conden said. “So I just tossed a can of ravioli, a fork and a can opener into my bag. So, I sat on the bench eating cold raviolis. Coach started laughing, walks over to me and says something like ‘um, usually we don’t allow that, next time just bring a Power Bar or something.'”
Conden’s career has included more obstacles than his snack choices, however.
Once at GW, Conden struggled with elbow and arm trouble in his sophomore and junior seasons, but was determined not to let the physical setbacks get the best of him.
He said when he did not have his fastball he developed his change-up, making him a more well-rounded pitcher.
Another obstacle Conden wrestled was his decision to come to GW, as Major League Baseball scouts were looking his way after his four years at Owego Free Academy in New York. But in the end, Conden feels he made the right decision.
“I got some attention in high school, but I really wanted to go to school” Conden said, adding that most Americans who play major league baseball go to four year colleges. “It’s tough sometimes with such a busy schedule here… but I’m glad I came .”
Unlike other classmates Conden did not leave school early for the draft and Walter is sure the scouts will still be after his ace at the end of his senior year in college. Conden said the big show is always in the back of his mind and he would enter the draft after graduation.
While Conden may look forward to pitching in the pros sometime soon, his sights this season are set on leading his team to a second consecutive A-10 championship and NCAA berth. With uniforms and everything.