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Hard Hat

Monday, February 11, 2008


Courtesy: Mike Ogle, The New York Times

The Columbia senior John Baumann was already known as Hard Hat and Mr. Saturday Night before Navy Coach Billy Lange added another name to the list. Lange was watching a tape of the Lions' basketball team, admiring Baumann's intensity, and could not resist calling Columbia Coach Joe Jones multiple times. With each call, Lange grew more excited.

John Baumann (20) is also a standout pitcher on the baseball team.

"He left three messages," Jones said. "'Oh my God, he's my favorite player!' Then he goes, 'Are you kidding me, Joe?' Then it was: 'He's Rambo! The next movie, he's got to star in it!' It was hysterical."

That is the funny thing about Baumann. He is nothing like the stereotype of an excel-at-everything Ivy Leaguer from Westport, Conn.

His family nickname is the cute John-John, but at a muscular 6 feet 7 inches, Baumann attacks life with a raw tenacity that makes the Rambo moniker appropriate. Jones said he could not play Baumann as much as he would like because Baumann did not know how to conserve energy and played himself to exhaustion.

That relentless style of play has Baumann among the Ivy League leaders with 15.0 points and 6.4 rebounds a game. As a pitcher for the Columbia baseball team, he tied for the team lead with five victories and led the Lions in strikeouts and complete games last season.

He is an all-Ivy League basketball player and was second-team all-conference in baseball. Last year Baumann, a forward, helped the Lions' basketball team finish with a winning record for the first time in 14 years. This season's team, now 10-11, could repeat the feat.

"The tenacity of his lifestyle, he's an absolute savage in everything he does," said Brett Loscalzo, a fellow senior on the basketball team and a fraternity brother. "A lot of college athletes might try to get away with some things in the classroom. But he's meeting with professors all the time, he's getting up in the mornings to study, he's at every class sitting in the front row taking notes."

Baumann said he sat in the front row simply for the leg room. But his vigor is obvious, particularly when it comes to the Ivy League's weekend-loaded basketball schedule.

For the rest of Mike Ogle's feature, as seen in the New York Times, please click here.