Amherst Magazine

The Thurston Pitch

By Roger M. Williams '56

Although “recruiting” is a tool much more prominently associated with Division I powerhouses, Bill Thurston employs it unabashedly and practices it as best he can—all, of course, within the college’s rigorous standards for admission. His competition for baseball talent, he says, is “no longer Duke, Stanford, Northwestern. They’ll take kids who can’t get in here. Nowadays we go after kids who are looking at Harvard and Princeton, some at Yale.” Other small New England schools, including Williams, are not often serious rivals.

Thurston certainly has won more than his share of recruiting jousts. Three of his top players recall what he did or said that sold them on Amherst:

Stephan Rapaglia ’92: “Coach Thurston came to see one of my high school games and told me I was capable of contributing to the Amherst program…. I do remember him pointing out pictures in his office of former Amherst players who had become successful doctors, lawyers and major league front-office types.”

Duncan Webb ’04: “He did not need a sales pitch with me. Amherst sold itself—its reputation as the top liberal arts school in the country, the great baseball tradition, the location and campus. So once Coach said he was interested in me, I knew it was my top choice.”

Bill Nardi ’76: “His big sell was, ‘There are 5,000 diverse women in the Five College area—if you can’t get a date there, something’s wrong with you!’”