The term student-athlete is thrown around these days like a ball in a game of pepper, but Dr. David Krol certainly fits that mold as well as anyone.
Krol, an outstanding pitcher with a 4.0 GPA for Elyria Catholic, is being inducted into the Elyria Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday night along with Elyria High’s Jessy Verhoff and Tim Sweigard, EC’s Mike Kozma, Elyria West’s TJ Staton and the 1964 EHS football team. Jim Tomsic is being awarded for Distinguished Service.
“He’s the quintessential student-athlete,” EC classmate Bob Frantz said. “Right from the beginning of our freshman year, you knew he was a leader. He was our class president. He was incredibly smart.”
Frantz was Krol’s favorite receiver on the Panthers football team in 1985 and they still keep in touch.
But Krol’s forte was baseball.
“He was intelligent and a great leader,” said Tom Taylor, who was an assistant baseball coach at the time. “When he finished his minor league career, he came back to assist me with the team.”
Krol’s pitching and hitting during his junior season landed the Panthers in the state tournament in 1985.
Elyria Catholic’s baseball coach — Andy Pavlenda — spent a lifetime in the game and it didn’t take him long to know how talented Krol was. Pavlenda, who has since passed away, was enshrined into the ESHOF in 1983, two years before Krol’s team added to his legacy.
“Andy was a great mentor and a great coach,” Krol said. “I was fortunate enough to have his confidence to pitch in some pretty big games. Some I did really well in and some I didn’t do so well in. We had a great team, too.”
Krol was being modest. Defensive lapses probably cost EC its chance to advance to the final.
“I had to stick with Dave,” Pavlenda said shortly after the Panthers lost in the state semifinal. “He was still throwing well at the end and I had confidence he would get us through that final inning.”
Krol had 12 strikeouts and walked only four, but Wellston broke an 8-all tie with three runs in the seventh inning.
“That was one heck of a run,” Krol said. “We had a decent regular season. I think we might have won the conference. We just got on a roll during the playoffs. It was really an incredible team effort. In the regionals we played the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the state. No. 2 was Akron Hoban and No. 1 was Poland.”
Elyria Catholic finished the year 19-7. Krol was 8-2 with a 1.07 ERA. He struck out 112 hitters in 72 innings. At the plate, he batted .375 with two homers and 25 RBIs.
“I think I pitched both those (regional) games,” Krol said. “I can’t remember the circumstance, but we played in Barberton. The Hoban game I think I pitched and hit pretty well, but the Poland game, Keith Rybarcyk, another Hall of Famer, hit a long home run against Poland that won it for us. It didn’t end the game, but it gave us the lead. That was something else.”
EC came from behind to beat Hoban 7-6. Krol hit a two-run homer to trigger a four-run rally in the sixth inning. He struck out 10 and walked only three. Krol also had a run-scoring triple in the third inning.
Because of rain, the final wasn’t played until the following Saturday. Krol pitched a complete-game 2-1 win against Poland, but he just didn’t have his best stuff at the state tournament.
“We couldn’t do it,” Krol said. “We had a tough game. I think once we got down there, we got a little nervous and didn’t play as well as we could have.”
Krol felt the team was going to repeat the following year. He threw a no-hitter against Oberlin on a Saturday morning in the Class AA district semifinal and tried to come back to start the second game against Elyria West.
“The only players we lost were Rybarcyk and Dave Kaminski,” he said. “We had guys like Billy Noveske and Matt Henderson. Matt went on to be an incredible ballplayer at Bluffton. Billy ‘Nov’ played Division I baseball at Kent.”
EC was 20-0 and Krol had won nine of those going into the district final against Elyria West, a team the Panthers had beaten twice during the regular season. Unlike the year before when rainouts worked to Krol’s advantage, this time the postponements had forced EC to play two games on the same day.
“I think it was a five- or six-inning game,” he said. “I don’t think we played the full game. We hit them pretty hard. I didn’t throw that many pitches so Pav had me start the second game.”
It was too much to ask. The Wolverines prevailed 2-0.
“I think I pitched the first two or three innings and gave up one or two runs,” he said. “We just couldn’t score.”
“It was an honor catching for Dave in high school,” Henderson said. “He was by far the best pitcher I had the opportunity to battery with, even during my college career. He had intensity and control like no other and his drop ball — wow.”
“I played three years of Division I baseball,” Krol said. “I got to play in the Cape Cod League and I ended up playing professional baseball. I got a degree, went to medical school. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
The Cape Cod League is still considered the premier summer baseball league for collegiate players. Krol was named All-American by Baseball America for his 6-2 record and 1.51 ERA with Cotuit in 1988.
As a freshman in 1987, he led Toledo’s starting pitchers with a 6-3 record and a 3.13 ERA. In his sophomore year, Krol was 8-7 with a 2.19 ERA. He struck out 90 hitters. His junior season, in 1988, he was 7-3 and led the team in strikeouts and innings pitched. He’s still among the top pitchers in seven UT pitching categories.
Before his senior year, he was drafted in the 16th round by the Minnesota Twins. He started in Kenosha, Wisc., in Single A ball in 1989. He also played at Visalia, Calif. He played three years in the Twins farm system, but decided to go back to school and pursue his doctorate degree.
He graduated magna cum laude a year later and earned his medical degree at Yale.
In high school, Krol also played football. He took over as quarterback for the Panthers in 1985 — a year removed from EC’s back-to-back state championships. With him under center, EC finished the year just out of the playoffs at 7-3.
“It’s hard to compare against back-to-back state champion seasons,” Krol said. “Seven-and-three is almost a losing record. We did really well. I was really proud of our team. It was so much fun.
“I would argue our senior class — I would put them against any of the classes that came through Elyria Catholic. The class before me was the best football class (1985) that ever came through EC. Our class was the best in baseball.”
Krol, also a 4.0 student at Toledo, is the senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in Princeton, N.J. His wife — Christina — is a news producer for ABC television. They have three children — Ellie, 6, and twin sons Matthew and John, who turn 5 in July. He still has a pediatrics practice and sees patients a half-day a week in New Brunswick, N.J.
His parents — Andrew and Terri — will be at the banquet as will his younger sister, Andrea.
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
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