Throwback Thursday 3.28.13 Joe Heeney (Baseball) 1981-84
March 28, 2013
Joe Heeney grew up a Jayhawk fan. The Kansas native grew up in Overland Park and spent many of his days in his front yard playing any game that included a ball and a bat. As a high schooler, he participated in both baseball and football. His original decision before graduation was to go play football for the University of Tulsa, but after a great senior baseball season, he figured it was in his best interest to play collegiate baseball. When the Jayhawks offered him a spot he quickly accepted. While playing for Kansas, Joe got to spend a lot of time with his brothers, John and Jim, as they were both on the baseball team as well. Joe now is married and has two sons, Tyler and Ben. Ben Heeney is a sophomore linebacker on the Kansas football team.
What led you to begin playing baseball?
“I started playing baseball in the second grade and instantly fell in love with it. Back then, that’s what kids did in the summer. We always had neighborhood games going of wiffle ball, home run derby or something that included a bat and a ball.”
Growing up, who was your biggest role model?
“Obviously, I would say my parents have had a big influence on me. There were also several teachers and coaches who meant a lot to me. From a baseball standpoint, I would say my two favorite players were George Brett and Frank White.”
Why did you choose KU?
“I became a KU fan growing up in Overland Park. I originally committed to play football at the University of Tulsa with a verbal agreement that I could also play baseball for them. Shortly after I signed with Tulsa, they announced they were dropping their baseball program. I had a pretty good senior season in baseball and during the summer before my freshman year of college I decided I’d rather play baseball over football. I was advised to go to the NCAA office where I had to petition the Missouri Valley Conference to release me from the letter of intent, which they did. That allowed me to look at schools for baseball. Coach (Floyd) Temple offered me a scholarship and I gladly accepted it.”
What memory, from your days at KU, stands out the most?
“There are many things that stand out, but the most meaningful memory took place my junior year when I was able to play with both of my brothers. Jim was a senior outfielder, John was a sophomore pitcher and I played third base. When John pitched, the three of us made up one third of our lineup and that was pretty cool. Other memories include some pretty interesting road trips that make for some great stories and laughs when we all get together. During fall baseball of my senior year, KU football was playing at USC. I don’t remember who we were playing but we heard KU was on the verge of beating them, so we somehow got a radio into our dugout and listened to the end of the game. We were more into the football game than our own game.”
What have you been doing since your time at KU?
“I played in the Yankees’ farm system for one-and-a-half seasons which I enjoyed because it was a goal of mine to at least try to play professional baseball. When that ended, I worked for two years for a large trucking company in Kansas City, and for the last 26 years I’ve been in the life insurance business.”
How often do you come back to Lawrence?
“We get back to Lawrence pretty often. My wife is a KU graduate and both of our sons attend KU. Tyler is graduating this spring from the business school, and Ben is a sophomore playing football for the Jayhawks.”
Do you still keep in touch with any of your former teammates? (team)
“I have lost touch with some of the guys, but there is a core group of us that see each other regularly at golf outings, KU games and socially.”
Do you have any advice for those who aspire to become college baseball players?
“My advice for anyone going to KU would be to get involved and meet as many people as you can. The friendships and relationships developed at KU have meant so much to my wife and I over the years, both personally and in the workplace. Our alumni base seems to be everywhere. Plus, it’s always fun to hear someone yell `Go Jayhawks’ or `Rock Chalk’ when we travel.”