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The Dartmouth
February 22, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Where are they now: Dartmouth catcher Chris O'Dowd '13


O'Dowd's father is the general manager of the Colorado Rockies and raised him to be passionate about baseball. Starting in the third grade, the family would travel across the country to support O'Dowd as he played up to 120 games in a single year.

Now, O'Dowd has come full-circle, playing catcher in the minor leagues for the very organization his dad oversees. Originally drafted by the San Diego Padres during his junior year at Dartmouth, O'Dowd quickly realized that the team was not the right fit for him. Though he enjoyed being involved with baseball at the professional level, the Padres did not offer him the chance to play to his full capability. Soon after, he decided to join the Rockies.

"They've had their arms open to me ever since I was a little kid," he said. "They were always checking up on me and seeing how I was doing. When things presented themselves that I wouldn't have the opportunity over there, the Rockies immediately said, We need to get you over here."'

So far, O'Dowd has played for two of the seven Rockies minor league affiliate teams. He started off as a back-up catcher for the class A affiliate Asheville Tourists and is currently the short-season class A affiliate Tri-City Dust Devils' starting catcher. The Dust Devils have 15 games left this season, and O'Dowd hopes to finish the season strong.

O'Dowd is currently hitting a .243 average with a .343 slugging percentage in 140 at-bats.

"I bleed purple and black, my connection to the Rockies goes far deeper than me just playing for a team," he said. "The Rockies culture breeds the environment in which I believe I can be the best baseball player I can be and develop in all areas of my life."

Bob Whalen, who coached O'Dowd at Dartmouth, said his greatest strength was a strong work ethic combined with a deep passion for baseball.

"He's grown up around the game, and I think it's instilled a great love and a great passion not just for the sport but for playing," he said.

Whalen said O'Dowd's love for baseball and commitment to practice strengthened the Dartmouth squad.

"When you have kids that are passionate, that tends to be contagious and rubs off on other players in a very good way," he said.

Jeff Keller '14, the Big Green's cocaptain and O'Dowd's old teammate, said he realized O'Dowd's talent when he saw him hit a line drive home run with a wooden bat.

"My jaw just dropped," he said. "I've never seen anything like that."

Keller said O'Dowd's broad baseball knowledge made him a resource.

"As a team player, he was somebody that you knew you could go to for any type of issue on the field," he said. "He was very interactive with our coaches and very interactive with other players. I would always look to him for advice, he was so well-versed and thought out."

O'Dowd, who plans to complete the final three courses for his economics and psychology double major and English minor this fall, said playing at the College taught him discipline. O'Dowd said he always knew he wanted to get a degree, and has taken multiple four-course terms to minimize the number of times he would have to come back to school after being drafted.

He said that his experience at the College taught him to be the best player possible, and taught him to focus on aiding other players.

"I look back on that experience and say thank goodness I learned to be an others-oriented person," he said.

O'Dowd is one of 18 Dartmouth students who have signed professional baseball contracts in the last 13 years.