Baseball has been a central part of Stu Fritz’s life as long as he can remember.
From family vacations to St. Louis Cardinals games growing up in Iowa to 28 seasons as Hope College’s baseball coach, he has loved the game.
Prior to last weekend’s season-opening doubleheader, Fritz joined the Orange and Blue Podcast to discuss his baseball roots and the unique 2021 baseball season for the Flying Dutchmen.
Fritz and his team returned to competition this spring after the 2020 season was canceled after three games due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I would say that baseball players and coaches, by our nature, have to be resilient with rainouts and makeups, especially playing here in the Great Lakes region. We’re used to having things postponed or canceled, but never quite to that magnitude,” Fritz said. “I will tip my hat to our guys. They handled it extremely well. It was disappointing for our coaching staff to truly have a season taken away.
“If there is a silver lining, it’s that everybody else was in the same boat. We didn’t have anything else we could do, so we took it in stride. We’re ready to get back out and get going.”
The 2021 baseball season is full of promise for the Flying Dutchmen. They won a school-record 31 games in their last full season in 2019. They were picked to be a contender for an MIAA title this spring; finishing second in the league’s preseason coaches poll.
Fritz, who started playing baseball as a child in Iowa, is grateful for all of the opportunities the game has given him. He has traveled to Switzerland to take part in coaching clinics. He has served as president of the American Baseball Coaches Association.
And, he’s made a career coaching the sport itself at Hope College — a path that started because of a chance meeting with retired Hope College men’s basketball Glenn Van Wieren at St. Olaf College (Minnesota) 30 years ago.
“I firmly believe that our creator puts us in spots and gives us opportunities,” Fritz said.
When he’s not at the baseball field, Fritz works to mold the educators of tomorrow. He recently became tenured as an associate professor of kinesiology at Hope. As part of his role, he helps assess student physical education teachers.
“I enjoy being out in the field,” Fritz said. “I think it helps me stay current to see our students in a different way: in the classroom versus always on the court, on the track, in the pool, or on the field. It’s something near and dear to my heart.”