Just three years removed from major arm surgery and one year after feeling the sting of being released from his first professional baseball team, Kurt Hartfelder ’05 is proof that persistence pays off.
Hartfelder, a two-time All-North Coast Athletic Conference honoree as a pitcher at Wittenberg, came into the 2006 Frontier League season with the Chillicothe Paints as an unknown. Hartfelder exceeded expectations, emerging as the team’s ace with a league-leading 1.67 earned run average while helping the team to a second-place finish in the Frontier League playoffs.
“I can’t say I expected to be an all-star this year,” Hartfelder said. “My first priority was to make the team. But after my first two games, I realized that I was pitching pretty well.”
His impressive 2005 Wittenberg season, in which he earned first-team All-NCAC honors, and a sterling performance at the Frontier League’s annual tryout camp made Hartfelder the No. 1 pick in the 2005 entry draft. However, the Mid-Missouri Mavericks cut him just before the start of the season. An art major, Hartfelder had to re-focus his priorities and re-dedicate himself to earn another shot at professional baseball.
“This is a special time for me,” Hartfelder said. “When I was in middle school, I took art classes and then played baseball. I’ve always had an interest in both areas, and I am still able to pursue both.
“Several Frontier League players have made the majors through the years,” Hartfelder said. “That would be my wildest dream right now.”