By: Forest Stulting, Sports Editor
Buddie is the son of two educators and the youngest of three brothers. He is originally from Cleveland, Ohio. In a state known for wrestling, surrounded by older brothers who wrestled, you can guess what he thought his future would hold. In high school, Mike won two state championships in wrestling and signed a letter of intent to wrestle at the University of Northwestern. However, he had another dream calling as well.
Pitching for a summer baseball team between his senior year of high school and freshman year of college, Buddie was spotted by a major league scout. When the scout learned that Buddie’s baseball career could be coming to a halt, the scout made a phone call. That call was to the head baseball coach at Wake Forest. With one scholarship left, that coach offered the money to Buddie. Then, on a whim, Buddie headed south to play baseball, not knowing what to expect.
During his freshman year at Wake Forest, Buddie pitched well enough to get attention from major league scouts. It became apparent that he would get drafted following his junior year. (College players must be three years removed from high school or twenty-one years old in order to get drafted.) Sure enough, the New York Yankees selected Mike in the fourth round of the 1992 draft.
Buddie played five seasons in the majors, two with the Yankees and three with the Milwaukee Brewers. The highlight of his career came in his rookie year with the Yankees in ‘98. Buddie got to pitch for what was arguably the greatest team in Major League Baseball history. The Yankees won 114 regular season games and only lost two games in the postseason while sweeping the San Diego Padres in the World Series.
Once his major league career was over, Buddie went back to Wake Forest in the fall of 2004 to finish his degree in Communications to begin a new journey.
“I fell in love with being on a college campus again,” Buddie said while finishing his degree.
That feeling resonated with Buddie and played a factor in his future. Once Buddie completed his degree, he got a position with the Business School of Wake Forest raising money for the program. However, Buddie quickly knew he did not want to do that for the rest of his life. He then went to go talk with the current AD at Wake Forest to see if he had a place for him and just as Mike took a gamble on coming to Wake Forest, the AD took a chance on him.
Buddie started slowly, having coaches report to him. Both Buddie and the AD knew he was ready for more. Each day gave Buddie more responsibilities and experience on how to run a college program. Once he gained the knowledge and experience, he started to develop a list of ideal colleges at which he would like to work. Looking for a private school with good academics in an even better location, Furman seemed like the perfect fit.
Buddie anticipates an exciting Furman Athletics future. He has two consistent thoughts on his mind at all times, “What do we need next?” and a desire to win.
“My vision is to win. But we’re not going to bring in kids that do not value the Furman education,” Buddie said.
Photo courtesy of Forest Stutling