COLUMBUS, Ohio – Only one sport has the honor and privilege to be called the first sport at The Ohio State University. And that would be the baseball program, with a proud heritage that dates back 127 years and includes a national championship, four appearances in the College World Series and 23 Big Ten Conference championships.

Ohio State Baseball has its own rich heritage of great players, as well, including Nick Swisher; born in Columbus and the pride of Parkersburg, W.Va., The Ohio State University and now the New York Yankees.

On Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010, Swisher was honored for his accomplishments – on and off the field –  in front of more than 105,000 fans at Ohio Stadium for the 107th edition of The Game … one the great rivalries in all of sports: Ohio State vs. Michigan.

Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2000, twice first-team All-Big Ten, and a player on two of those Big Ten championship-winning teams, Swisher was a dominant collegiate baseball player and then a No. 1 Major League draft pick by the Oakland A’s.

Swisher played four seasons in Oakland, followed by a year in Chicago…and now he has finished two of his finest seasons as a pro in Yankee pinstripes. In the process, Swisher has won a World Series crown, played in the All-Star game, received praise for his hustle and all-out passion for the game, and perhaps most importantly, remained that awesome teammate that he has always been known to be. Consider what others have said and written about Swisher:

  • “He’s had an impact on the clubhouse,” former Yankee Johnny Damon said.
  • Frank Thomas once said “He’s one of those guys that brings a little energy every day and it’s just very infectious.”
  • Billy Beane said Swisher “Has got a certain presence that I think a lot of the great players have.”
  • A Yankee fan, quoted in the New York Post, said Swisher “…Goes to work every day, plays with passion and energy, and respects the passion and energy of the fans.”
  • And Sports Illustrated wrote “Nick Swisher is good. He is home-run-beltin’, sideburn-wearin’, nonstop-talkin’, bear-hug-dispensin’, self-proclaimin’ good. His coaches know it. His teammates know it. …”

Swisher is more than just good. He is good from the heart. He has his own charity – Swish’s Wishes – which is “dedicated to enriching lives and lifting the spirits of children who are facing vital health issues while providing care, comfort and support through the most difficult of times.”

He also works with Make-a-Wish Foundation, and has donated hair to women who have lost theirs from cancer treatments…an homage to his Grandmother, Betty Swisher, who died of brain cancer in 2005 and whose initials Swisher has tattooed on his chest.

Nick Swisher could have played football coming out of high school. He was recruited by a bevy of Division I powerhouses as a hard-hitting strong safety. He chose baseball, his first true love and the sport his father played for nine years in the Major Leagues.

Swisher may not have played in Ohio Stadium but Saturday, joined by his fiancé Joanna Garcia, Director of Athletics Gene Smith, baseball coach Greg Beals and baseball assistant Josh Newman, he was on the Block “O” in the middle of Ohio Stadium in between the first and second quarters because he is one of the great Buckeyes…regardless of sport.

Congratulations, Nick.