One of the Owls’ top players during Keene State’s final years in Division II, Geoff Sylvester ’96 becomes the seventh baseball player to be inducted into the KSC Alumni/Athletic Hall of Fame. The hard-hitting Sylvester, who played several infield positions and pitched, completed his four-year career (1993-96) with 12 home runs, 89 RBIs, and a robust .353 average, third best on KSC’s all-time list.
Twice named to All-NECC teams, Sylvester earned All-Northeast honors as a senior after leading the Owls to a berth in the 1996 ECAC Tournament. The Worcester, Mass., native still holds six KSC records, including home runs in a season (eight) and hits in a career (156).
However, Sylvester’s baseball career is more than just numbers and awards. A one-time member of a state little league championship and high school state finalist teams, Sylvester loved to lace on the cleats and step on the diamond. “He was a very intense player who lived for the game, “recalls KSC Coach Ken Howe.
Affectionately nicknamed “Sly” by his teammates, Sylvester utilized his athletic skills to play multiple positions for the Owls during his KSC career. “I think I helped Coach Howe fill many voids on his team, said a modest Sylvester.
“Geoff wanted to mash the ball and pitch a no-hitter all at the same time,” said Howe with a chuckle. “He left everything out in the field and bled KSC red.”
While Sylvester’s power numbers speak for themselves, he’d be the first to admit that he pitched in hard-luck for the Owls. He remembers this story from his junior season: Slated to be the team’s closer that year, “Sly” was called upon to make an emergency start in the second game of the Owls’ Florida trip. Lacking the arm strength to finish the game against Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Sylvester was taken out after five innings with a 3-0 lead.
“Do you know he’s pitching a no-hitter?” said members of the opposing team after hearing about the pitching change.
Later that year he pitched eight strong innings as a starter against New Hampshire College, only to be relieved by Shawn Barry, who pitched into the 17th inning fanning a program record 18 batters.
For Sylvester, named the 1997 KSC male athlete of the year, it was all about the team. He was fortunate to play on the last KSC squad to earn a post-season berth. “As we grew as a class, we started to get better every year,” said Sylvester, whose 1996 ECAC team at the time set an Owl record with 23 victories.
“It’s an incredible honor to be inducted into the hall of fame, “said the recently married Sylvester (to Annette Exarhof), who is currently living in Lexington, Mass., where he works for a pharmaceutical company. “I didn’t know what to say when Coach Howe called. “I was so happy for the program…what the program gave to me, and what I was able to give to the program.”