On Friday, an all-time Rutgers baseball legend passed away; Angel Echevarria was 48 years old.
The death was sudden. According to ctpost, the former Scarlet Knights outfielder and longtime Major League baseball veteran had been ill with a stomach virus for several days, then fell and hit his head at his home Friday in Bridgeport, CT. After being hospitalized, he unfortunately did not recover.
Echevarria arrived on the banks after starring at Bassick High School in Bridgeport. In just three seasons with the Scarlet Knights, he became the program’s all-time leader in Home Runs and RBI, starting with a nine home run season in 1990 that helped RU to an Atlantic 10 East Division and tournament title. The season ended just one win short of the College World Series.
In 1991, Angel destroyed the old record books as he set new single-season records with 12 home runs, 80 hits, and 132 total bases. He also led the Knights in RBI (54) tying the program record set by Mark Zagunis Sr., runs with 51, the third best tally at the time behind only Eric Young Sr. (twice), and doubles (14). This powered Rutgers to the Central Regional, but RU ultimately fell short of the College World Series once again.
In his final year, 1992, he ONLY hit 10 homers and drove in 50 runs since he walked a team leading 31 times, but set multiple career records. Angel passed Gary Resetar for the most career RBI in program history with 145. He also bested Zagunis’s career home run record by a large margin, setting the new standard with 31. He was second in total bases behind Glen Gardner (336) at the end of his career on the banks. Angel was named First Team All-Atlantic 10 for the second time in three years as RU won their third straight division title.
The 6’4”, 215 lb. outfielder was drafted in the 17th round by the Colorado Rockies in 1992; yes before the franchise ever played its first Major League Baseball game. Four years later he made his MLB debut on July 15. After stints with the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs, Angel finished his career in Japan for two seasons blasting 47 homers in just 204 games.
By all accounts, all the accolades and records above pale in comparison to what Angel had done off the field and in the years since. He operated a baseball school in his hometown to coach the next generation of talent reach their dreams. In addition, he and his fellow coaches often did free clinics for the underprivileged youth in the Bridgeport area and did fundraising for hurricane relief in Puerto Rico. He will be missed most for all this giving.
Rest in peace, Angel.