A couple of weeks ago, fourth-year Kyle Engel walked off the diamond in what was his last game as a Chicago Maroon.
There is always a sense of bittersweet reminiscence in the final jog off the field—joyful memories mixed with a recognition that those times, at least for an instant, have come to an end.
Although Engel’s time with the squad has come to a close, he will always be a part of Maroon baseball. In fact, his name will remain in the record books, a stamp of his diligence and success, his dedication and passion, and above all his indelible presence.
Engel will be leaving the Maroons with no shortage of personal achievements. This year alone, in just 38 games, Engel batted a blistering .486 from the plate, drove in 43 runs, scored 36 runs, stole six bases, and crushed four balls out of the park. In the process, he set the school’s record in single-season hits (68) and doubles (25). This year, he was named UAA Athlete of the Week twice and earned a spot in the D3Baseball.com Team of the Week (5/5). He also earned First Team All-UAA Honors and was named to the D3Baseball.com and ABCA All-Regional First Team.
After four outstanding years, he sits atop the school record books in doubles (50) and places second in hits (195), fourth in overall batting average (.388), and eighth in RBIs (113) and home runs (10).
None of this success could have been possible without Engel’s uncanny love for the game. His passion now runs deep, even if that wasn’t necessarily the case early on.
As he explains, “I’ve been playing baseball for almost my whole life. I actually wasn’t very interested when I was young, and only became interested when I realized that all of my friends were playing T-ball. Ever since I’ve started, though, there hasn’t been a year where I haven’t been playing baseball. I’ve always loved playing baseball, so when I wasn’t in an organized season, I would be playing wiffle ball or stick ball with my brother and neighborhood friends.”
And it is that camaraderie—the chatter in the dugout, the talk on the field, and the moments with friends—that he will forever cherish about baseball.
“After I graduate, I probably won’t remember the scores of specific games or how well or poorly I played. What I will remember is the friendships that I made with guys on the team and the fun that I had with the team on and off the field. Some of my best memories aren’t from specific games, but rather from the long bus rides where everyone was laughing and playing Hearts.”
Engel’s success on the field is equally matched by his success off the diamond. During his time at UChicago, the statistics and chemistry double major discovered another passion, one that he hopes will guide him throughout his future. As he explains, “Other than playing baseball, I’ve been involved with research in the human genetics department. Working there, I gained a lot of experience in analyzing vast amounts of genetic data, and the work helped me realize my passion for statistics and data analysis. So, after graduation I’m planning on staying here in Chicago working as a data analyst. Eventually, I would love to get a higher degree in statistics or a related field.”
With that in mind, Engel ends one incredible chapter of his life ready to start the next.