DeKALB – Northern Illinois baseball coach Ed Mathey has a pretty good memory from one of the first times he saw Zach Badgley pitch.
During the summer of 2007, before Badgley’s senior season at McHenry High School, Mathey watched the tall, lean right-hander throw in the Stevenson Showcase in Lincolnshire. The other coaches in attendance already were joking that Badgley, who already had three brothers play at Northern Illinois, would end up a Huskie.
“He was throwing the ball pretty well then,” said Mathey, who remembers Badgley’s fastball being about 87 or 88 mph that summer. “I just remember a lot of the other coaches standing in the back, looking down, reading their radar guns, looking up and they go, ‘Oh, I guess he’s going to Northern.’ ”
Badgley took an unofficial visit later that summer, and committed to NIU not too long after.
This season, Badgley is wrapping up his career, which will be the final season NIU will have one of the four Badgley brothers on its roster.
Dan Badgley pitched at NIU from 1997 to 2001, while Mark was a Huskie hurler from 2003-07 and Nick was part of the program from 2008-09.
Since Dan Badgley made his first trip to the mound in 1997, the Badgley brothers have made a total of 215 appearances and 32 starts, throwing 504 1/3 innings.
Dan and Mark spent time playing professionally after collegiate careers, with Dan spending a year in the Detroit Tigers organization and Mark pitching with the Florida Marlins in 2007.
Dan, now the baseball coach at Crystal Lake Central, was even married at Ralph McKinzie Field, the Huskies’ home park, in front of about 100 people.
“When I got married, my wife (Christina), she basically surprised me with that, I had no idea,” said Dan, who lives in Kirkland.
Ball State, Illinois and West Virginia were other schools that recruited Zach out of McHenry. In the end, the familiarity with NIU’s program won out.
There also was a chance for Zach to play on the same team with Nick for one season. The only time the two had played organized baseball together was summer ball with the Crystal Lake Cardinals. Zach does remember the extremely intense whiffle ball games with the Badgley clan, but this was a chance for the two brothers to be members of the same program.
“Since Nick was still on the team, it made it pretty easy,” Zach Badgley said. “I was just comfortable with it.”
Five years later (he took a redshirt year in 2010 after sitting out with a torn labrum), Zach is pitching his final year for the Huskies. He’s made six appearances and three starts so far in 2013.
In a way, it’s the end of an era.
“It’s good, and I guess it’s sad in a way,” Zach said. “Growing up, I saw all of my brothers play every year. ... It’s something cool to look back on in the future, to say four of us played for the same university.”