The 24-hour women’s baseball game, remembered in Cooperstown and covered in the New York Times, had humble beginnings on the Hilltop.
Rob Novotny ’93 says the idea stems from when he and teammate Mitch Teich ’92 turned on the lights at Cornell’s baseball field to conduct a late-night sandlot game. A faked letter of permission from their coach kept security at bay.
The result is that Novotny, former vice president of American Women’s Baseball, organized the first 24-hour baseball game on Oct. 18–19, 2003, in Tucson, Ariz. Seventy two women from America, Australia, and Japan participated. The game raised $64,000 that sent 12 doctors to Ethiopia to help babies be born free of HIV/AIDS—an idea given guidance by Dr. David Hilmers ’72.
It continues to have a life because it was just such a meaningful event,” says Novotny. “It empowered women and saved lives.”
Novotny coached the 2002 world champion Australian women’s baseball team and has also coached and scouted for the Chicago White Sox and Texas Rangers. He still plays baseball 45 weeks a year and is engaged to teammate Kellie Manzie. They live in Australia, where he is national sales manager for the country’s largest baseball retailer.
Novotny was introduced to Cornell by godfather Phil Topcik ’71 and looks back fondly on his days on the Hilltop, especially toward professors Robert Dana and David Weddle. “The rigor of their education continues to challenge me today,” says Novotny. “It’s like they’re there with me.”
Novotny encourages Cornellians to contact him regarding Australia. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.