WMU Hall of Famer Len "Lefty" Johnston Welcomes Keegan Akin to the MLB
BALTIMORE, Md. – A couple of great former Western Michigan student-athletes got together earlier this week, as WMU Hall of Famer Len “Lefty” Johnston welcomed the recent MLB Draft pick Keegan Akin to professional baseball by picking him up at the Baltimore-Washington International Airport.
A left-handed pitcher from Midland, Mich., Akin was recently selected by the Baltimore Orioles as the 54th overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, becoming WMU's highest draft pick since 1970. As a junior this past year, Akin set a new school record for strikeouts in a season with 133, surpassing Pat Misch’s 99 strikeouts in 2001. Following his historical season, Akin was named an All-American by ABCA/Rawlings and was voted First Team All-Mid-American Conference, MAC Tournament MVP (the first in school history) and to the MAC All-Tournament and All-MAC Defensive teams.
“(Len) is a great guy and had a lot of good things to say about Western Michigan,” Akin said. “He told me a few stories about his days at WMU and in the MLB and he was glad to have another Western Michigan alumnus around.”
Johnston, a WMU Hall of Fame Inductee in 1990, was a two sport athlete for the Brown & Gold, playing baseball from 1950-1952 and football from 1949 to 1951. He was an All-MAC outfielder in 1952 and batted .318 over 66 career games. Johnston set then school records for career on-base percentage (.436), runs (82) and steals (32). He played 15 seasons in the minor leagues with the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees, but has remained with the Orioles organization in various capacities since 1977.
“I was so happy to see that the two of them together at the airport,” WMU Athletics Director Kathy Beauregard said. “How special is it that Hall of Famer Lefty Johnston welcomes Keegan Akin to professional baseball. (Johnston) has been a large contributor to our renovation of the baseball field and Keegan has been looking at pictures of Lefty daily during his time at WMU.”
An active supporter of Bronco Athletics, Johnston played a major role in fundraising efforts for the Robert J. Bobb Stadium at Hyames Field project that saw the facility receive a $2 million dollar renovation in 2011. For his generous donations and efforts, the home dugout down the third base line was named in Johnston's honor.
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