By STEVE KRAH
Alex Maloney closed out his Ball State University baseball playing career in 2017 by receiving the “Dirt Bag Award” from his teammates.
“It means a lot to me,” says Maloney of the recognition of his willingness to persevere. “They saw me as hard-working and blue collar. Not a lot of people know it, but I played through a lot of injuries in college.”
It’s that kind of approach that Maloney is taking as the pitching coach at Wayne State University, an NCAA Division II program in Detroit. He is a graduate student pursuing his masters degree in business.
‘This team is a really special team to be around,” says Maloney, 24. “It’s a great group of hard-working kids. They make my job easy.
“We’re getting after it.”
Before transferring to Delta High School in Muncie, Ind., midway through his senior year (2013), Maloney attended Chelsea (Mich.) High School — located about 60 miles from Detroit — and played baseball and football for the Bulldogs. Alex transferred to Delta when father Rich Maloney returned as Ball State in Muncie as head baseball coach.
Terry Summers was head coach at Delta when Alex and younger brother Nick played for the Eagles.
Alex Maloney, the oldest of Rich and Kelle Maloney’s three children (Nick is a Ball State senior and daughter Natalie is a BSU freshmen) was recruited to Ball State as a two-way player. Injuries limited his pitching appearances. He worked nine stints and 8 2/3 innings in his freshman and junior seasons. He was primarily a shortstop or third baseman.
After playing in 227 games (226 as a starter), Maloney graduated from Ball State in 2017 with a degree in Political Science and a minor in Business Information Systems, played a few games with the Birmingham Bloomfield Beavers of the United Shore Professional Baseball League in Utica, Mich., then signed as a free agent with the Chicago White Sox organization. He played 23 games in 2017 and was released in June 2018.
He was on his way to testing to becoming a Michigan state trooper when Wayne State contacted him about continuing his education while coaching baseball. He started at WSU in August.
“Coaching or federal law enforcement — I’m debating each one I want to do,” says Maloney. “This is a great opportunity. It gives me two years to figure out what I wanted to do in life.
“It’s a win-win for me. I’m getting great coaching experience.”
Maloney experienced what he calls a learning curve in the fall as he was getting to know his pitchers and they were getting to know him.
Though he was mostly a position player in college, he welcomes the chance to learn more about guiding pitchers.
“As a coach, it’s good to be well-rounded,” says Maloney, who also helps with hitters and infielders on a Warriors staff led by Ryan Kelley and also featuring assistant/recruiting coordinator Aaron Hepner plus volunteer assistants John Dombrowski, Chris Ogden, Jake Pacholski and Josh Simonis.
Maloney has made the conversion from player to coach with the help of some mentors.
Besides his father and Wayne State’s Kelley and Hepner, there’s been Ball State pitching coaching coach Dustin Glant and University of Alabama at Birmingham volunteer assistant Ron Polk (who was a head coach for 35 years, including 29 at Mississippi State University) among others.
Maloney is also learning about NCAA Division II baseball, which is allowed to give nine scholarships (it’s 11.7 in D-I) and the teams on Wayne State’s schedule while also making connections with members of the Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association and beyond. The MHSBCA staged its annual state clinic Jan. 11-12 in Mt. Pleasant.
The Wayne State Warriors are part of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (with Ashland, Davenport, Ferris State, Grand Valley State, Lake Superior State, Michigan Tech, Northern Michigan, Northwood, Purdue Northwest, Saginaw Valley State and Wisconsin-Parkside).
Alex Maloney, a 2017 Ball State University graduate, is now baseball pitching coach and a graduate assistant at Wayne State University in Detroit. (Wayne State University Photo)