Overlooked Baseballer

By D.R. Belz, '78
Black and white baseball team photo

Loyola magazine thanks readers John Guthrie, ’79, and John Puccio, ’94, who pointed out the glaring omission of major league player Mike Bielecki, a star on Loyola’s baseball team. Here D.R. Belz, ’78, recaps Bielecki’s standout career.

Baltimore native and Dundalk High School righthander Mike Bielecki came to Loyola to pitch a standout season his freshman year.

One enthralled Greyhound sportswriter pronounced him “the ace of the Hounds young hill corps.”

Little did that 1978 dream team know that Loyola varsity baseball was in its final inning.

Two traditional sounds of spring—the crack of a starting pistol and the crack of a baseball bat—would no longer echo across the Evergreen campus. In the fall of 1978, intercollegiate baseball and track were dropped to help fund a new athletic complex and a parking facility. (The athletic complex was begun more than a year later. The parking garage was never constructed.)

Ironically, the end of Loyola’s varsity baseball program was just the beginning for Mike Bielecki’s pro baseball career.

He had caught the eye of major league scouts, and in 1979, the Pittsburgh Pirates selected him as their 8th pick in the first round of the amateur draft. Bielecki made his major league debut on Sept. 14, 1984, at 25 years old.

After joining the Chicago Cubs in 1989, he pitched 18 wins—a career highlight— prompting sportscaster Harry Caray to dub Bielecki “The Polish Prince.”

His career was not unmarred by tragedy. In 1993, while a Cleveland Indian, Bielecki declined a fishing trip invitation by teammates Steve Olin, Tim Crews, and Bob Ojeda on a day off during spring training. That night, a freak boating accident killed Olin and Crews, and nearly killed Ojeda.

Bielecki finally joined the Atlanta Braves and played in the 1996 World Series. He pitched his final game of an illustrious 14-season career on August 16, 1997.

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