A hero of postseason college baseball has been named the manager of the Chicago Cubs.
David Ross — who played in a pair of College World Series with Auburn and Florida — was named to the job on Thursday, Oct. 24. Ross, who won a pair of World Series as a player with the Cubs and Boston Red Sox, signed a three-year deal with a club option for 2023.
This will be Ross’ first stint as a baseball coach. Since his retirement in 2016, he has worked with ESPN as an analyst and appeared on Dancing With the Stars.
Ross, 42, grew up in Tallahassee, Fla., and spent his college ball days starring behind the plate for a pair of Southeastern Conference giants.
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David Ross at Auburn
Ross appeared in 80 games for the Tigers between the 1996 and 1997 seasons, making 41 starts
With one swing of the bat in the 1997 Tallahassee Regional, Ross put himself in Auburn baseball lore. With two runners on, but trailing Florida State by two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning, Ross squared up at the plate and drove a 2-2 slider over the left field wall, giving the Tigers a walk-off victory. The next day, Auburn won again to advance to the College World Series.
Ross’ future Atlanta Braves’ teammate Tim Hudson was on that Auburn team too.
“I just remember David battling,” Hudson told auburntigers.com in 2017. “The one thing I remember, I remember sitting on second base at one point thinking, golly man, how awesome would it be if he would just get ahold of one and hit a homer. What an unbelievable ending to a game, not really thinking, what’s the chances of it happening?”
In his two seasons at Auburn, Ross had a .263 batting average with 26 RBI. His walk-off dinger in the 1997 regional was one of just two home runs he hit there, according to The Baseball Cube.
Auburn wouldn’t make another College World Series until this past season, 2019.
Ross is the second former Auburn baseball player to become an MLB manager. The first was Bill Hitchcock, who managed the Tigers, Orioles and Braves in the 1960s. Ross is also one of just nine Auburn alumni who have played in a World Series.
David Ross at Florida
Ross transferred to a different SEC school for his third year of college baseball, suiting up for the Florida Gators. His stats improved in Gainesville, as he posted a .332 batting average with 69 RBI and 19 home runs.
The Gators made College World Series that season, making Ross one of the few players to ever appear in a College World Series with two different teams.
Future major leaguers Brad Wilkerson, Josh Fogg and Mark Ellis were also on the 1998 Florida team. The Gators won 21 games in the regular season, taking the SEC title.
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David Ross in MLB
Ross opted to forego his final year of NCAA eligibility to enter the MLB Amateur Draft, where he was selected in the seventh round by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1998. Ross made his MLB debut in 2002 and went on to play 15 seasons in the majors for the Dodgers, Pirates, Padres, Reds, Red Sox, Braves and Cubs.
2006 with the Reds was arguably Ross’ best statistical season, as he batted for a .255 average with 21 home runs and 52 RBI in 90 games, while also posting a .952 OPS.
Ross started in seven World Series games during his time with Cubs and Red Sox, scoring a run in each series and driving in a total of three. When Ross hit a home run in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series, he became the oldest player to hit a dinger in the fall classic, doing so at age 39.
Also, in 2016, Ross made two pitching appearances for the Cubs. He also caught Jake Arrieta’s no-hitter that season.
Now, he’ll be tasked with getting the Cubs back to baseball’s biggest stage from the dugout.