Declan Cronin ’15’s Path to the Major Leagues
Declan Cronin ’15 with the White Sox this season. (Photo: Associated Press)

During his senior year at the College of the Holy Cross in 2019, Declan Cronin ’15 accepted an offer to work in the Campus Ministry office at Regis. He was eager to give back to his alma mater, but he had to include a caveat with his acceptance of the job: There was a chance he might be drafted by a Major League Baseball team, and if he was, he was going to pursue his dream of becoming a big-leaguer.

Cronin’s draft stock had risen during his stellar senior season at Holy Cross. He’d earned All-Patriot League first team honors in 2019 and was also selected to the Patriot League All-Academic Team. His 2.70 ERA in his senior year was the second lowest in the conference, and his 156 strikeouts over four years were the tenth most in school history.

Even with a Major League Baseball Draft that lasted 40 rounds at the time — it’s since been shortened to 20 — Cronin considered it “a coin flip” whether his name would be called. But it was, by the White Sox in the 36th round. And after working his way up through the White Sox farm system, on July 30 he made his debut for Chicago and became the first Regian to play in the Major Leagues.

“It's pretty surreal,” said Cronin. “There are a lot of Regians who have gone off to do some pretty incredible things, so to be able to claim that I was the first Regian to do anything is pretty special.”

Cronin was in his Durham, North Carolina, hotel room, playing a late-night game of chess online against his brother, Brian Cronin ’11, when his triple-A coach knocked on his door to deliver the news that he’d be heading to Chicago.

“Brian was the first person I called, because I wanted to tell him why I kind of just let the clock run out,” said Cronin. “I'll let him have that one. It was worth it.”

After news of his call-up became public, Cronin’s phone blew up with messages from Regis classmates and other alumni like Jon Sciambi '88, a broadcaster with the Cubs.

“It’s been really nice to reconnect with some old classmates who I haven't really talked to a ton since graduation,” said Cronin. “It’s been tough for me to make JUG Night or anything like that, so to have an excuse to reconnect has been awesome.”

Cronin also sent some messages of his own, including one to Athletic Director Mr. Kevin Cullen, letting him know he was in an Uber on the way to the airport and a plane bound for Chicago.

“I’m so proud of him and so happy for him and his family,” said Mr. Cullen. “He's arguably the best athlete that has ever come through Regis High School, and we've had a ton of good athletes. He’s also the nicest guy that you've ever known, and you’re happy that good things are happening to him.”

Declan Cronin ’15 during his junior year at Regis

Cronin played on the varsity baseball team at Regis for three seasons, and he was also part of varsity basketball teams that won the 2014 state championship and the 2015 city championship. After the White Sox drafted him out of Holy Cross, he was assigned to Chicago’s Rookie-ball team in Arizona, then had stops in Kannapolis, Winston-Salem, Birmingham, and Charlotte. He joined the White Sox in Major League spring training this season before returning to triple-A, where he posted a 2.61 ERA with eight strikeouts in 10 July relief appearances in advance of his call-up.

When Cronin first took the mound for Chicago, in a game against the Cleveland Guardians, he had plenty of Regis support in the stands. His brother Brian made the trip, as did 2015 classmates Ryan Conlon, Monserrate DeLeon, Liam Hogan, and Patrick Thomas, who road-tripped through the night to arrive at Guaranteed Rate Field in time for his debut.

On August 8, in Cronin’s third appearance for the White Sox, he pitched two scoreless innings against the Yankees, striking out five batters including slugger Giancarlo Stanton. On the YES Network broadcast, Yankees announcer Michael Kay repeatedly referred to Regis and its academic reputation. After commentator David Cone praised the movement and location of Cronin’s slider, Kay joked, “Coming from Regis, he can calculate all the angles on that pitch, too. Take out his protractor, know exactly the break.”

Cronin isn’t the first Regian to reach the highest levels of professional sports. Tom Kelly ’41 played 27 games for the Boston Celtics in the Basketball Association of America, one year before the league rebranded as the NBA. But while stories like Cronin’s have been rare, they can serve as inspiration for future students.

Said Mr. Cullen: “It shows kids that if they work hard at their craft, they can make it to that level.”

Declan Cronin ’15, Patrick Thomas ’15, and Liam Hogan ’15 on the field in Chicago following Declan’s Major League debut on July 20. (Photo courtesy of Liam Hogan ’15)

Posted: 10/4/23