April 1, 2019 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids Community College baseball players are taking the field this year with new coach Mike Eddington – and new throwback jerseys recalling when Eddington starred for the team.
Eddington attended Grand Rapids Junior College in 1983 and 1984 before transferring to Michigan State University, where he broke the Spartan home run record held by Detroit Tigers legend Kirk Gibson.
The GRCC team unveiled a new set of uniforms this year, including an alternate blue pullover jersey with blue and gold stripes on the sleeves and collar and “Raiders” in old-school gold script across the front.
It’s a look very similar to what Eddington wore when he played two seasons at GRJC for legendary coach Tom Hofmann. He was part of the team that placed sixth in the Junior College World Series and was an honorable mention All-American.
Eddington said his players suggested the throwback look for the alternate jerseys. The team’s main white jerseys feature the GRCC athletic font unveiled late last year. All the team’s uniforms are made by Adidas. The throwback jerseys are worn with caps adorned with the college’s historic Raider logo, designed in the 1950s.
“It was their idea,” Eddington said. “Our program has a lot of history and it’s a tribute to the former players and coaches. I want our players to respect the program and play with pride for their school.”
Player Brady Paganelli said he noticed one of the older jerseys hanging in the Gerald R. Ford Fieldhouse, and saw photos of Coach Eddington and Assistant Coach Mike Cupples wearing them.
“I thought they looked sweet,” he said. “Once we heard we could pick out the new jerseys, that’s what instantly popped into my mind. I think the guys like playing in them because they have a sweet look, and they also represent the winning tradition GRJC showed back when those jerseys were originally worn. Now they can be part of a new winning tradition we are trying to bring back to GRCC.”
GRCC Athletic Director Bill Firn said Eddington is a tremendous baseball coach and leader of young men.
“It’s appropriate the team chose to look back with the alternate jerseys,” Firn said. “GRCC has a proud athletic heritage. Coach Eddington is part of it, and now he gets to add to that legacy as a coach.”
Eddington’s MSU home run record still stands, and he remains among the leaders in several other categories. He was MSU’s team captain and was selected as a first-team Big 10 player and an All-American.
Eddington was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the 16th round of the 1984 amateur draft and played a season in the minor leagues.
He later played for the Grand Rapids Sullivans, one of the top amateur teams in the nation, participating in international competition in the Netherlands. He was part of the 1990 team that beat the Cuban Olympic team to win the tournament.
Eddington has been a teacher in the Grand Rapids Public Schools since 1998 and has spent 16 years coaching Grand Rapids Central and Union high school baseball programs.
He also has worked five years as an assistant coach at GRCC, including on the 2005 national champions and the 2006 team that was the runner up.
"As a former player and assistant coach with the program, I have a lot of respect for the school, baseball program, former coaches and players," Eddington said. "I look forward to the challenges of maintaining the high standards that have been developed. Our goal is to win championships and to provide an opportunity for our student-athletes to reach their potential academically, athletically and personally."
The team is 9-13 after a rough stretch at the start of the season on the road, but has rebounded and is 7-1 in conference play.
Grand Rapids Community College has been offering educational opportunities in West Michigan for more than 100 years. Established in 1914, the college offers degree courses, certification and training programs, and workshops and personal enrichment classes. Offerings are held on GRCC’s downtown Grand Rapids campus, and at several locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties, as well as through distance learning.