Throwback Thursday 5.9.13 John Heeney (Baseball) 1982-86
May 9, 2013
John Heeney, a Kansas native, grew up in Overland Park as a Jayhawk fan. At a young age it was very clear that baseball was going to be his sport of choice as his two older brothers were highly involved in the game. As he developed his game early in life and carried that work ethic into high school, a difficult choice needed to be made; where was he going to play college baseball? The choice for him was a no brainer as he decided to follow in his brothers’ footsteps and play for the University of Kansas, making him the third Heeney to join the Jayhawks’ squad.
What led you to begin playing baseball?
“I was the third son of Irish triplets. My brothers played baseball with everyone in the neighborhood. This led me to play my first year of organized baseball in second grade and I ended up loving it.”
Why did you choose KU?
“The University of Kansas was right down the road from Lenexa, Kan., where I lived. On top of that, both of my brothers, Jim and Joe, were playing for Coach Floyd Temple at the time.”
What memory, from your days at KU, stand out the most?
“One memory that really stands out to me is the first time I was in the starting lineup. I was a walk-on my sophomore year. After a productive spring trip (that season), Marty Patton put me in the lineup as the fourth starter against Oklahoma in Norman. Ray Hayward was the Sooners’ pitcher and threw a three-hitter, one of which was a home run by Joel Gibson, `Big Country’ as he was known. I went through a five hitter while my team turned two or three double plays. Our catcher, Rob Thomson, threw out three guys stealing bases. After the final out, second baseman Mark Gile and I were coming off the field and he said `That was a great game to be a part of.’ It ended up being the only game of the series that we won.”
What have you been doing since your time at KU?
“My first job upon graduation was repossessing tractors for John Deere Co., that’s what a journalism degree got me. After a couple of years of that I got into sales and have been in that business ever since. I am currently the Vice President of Convention Sales for Kansas City.”
Who was your biggest role model growing up?
“My family was, without a doubt, my biggest role models. I can still remember how happy my mom and dad were when I told them I had earned a scholarship after my first year, partly because it meant more money in their pocket! Along with my parents, my high school football coach at Shawnee Mission West, Dick Purdy, and Dana Liebengood at the William Allen White School of Journalism were both mentors for me.”
How were you able to balance athletics and academics?
“I appreciate your optimism that I was able to balance athletics and academics. It did not come easy for me, but just like anything else, a little hard work goes a long way.”
How often do you come back to Lawrence?
“My family and I moved back to Lawrence in 2012 after 14 years in Cincinnati. While we lived in Cincinnati, we would come back for some football, basketball and baseball games every year because we were season ticket holders. We love game day. It’s the best day to be a Jayhawk!”
Do you have any advice for those aspiring to become college baseball players?
“Just do it. Being a college baseball player was one of the most gratifying experiences of my life, and I think future generations should reach for even higher goals than those that came before them.”