by Steve Mims
Bryce Boettcher wrapped up his work at safety in Oregon’s Spring Game on April 29th, hustled into the shower and then sprinted over to PK Park to help the UO baseball team finish off a 16-10 win over Arizona State in right field.
“It was a dream come true, no doubt,” said Boettcher, who arrived at the baseball game in the fourth inning and entered as a defensive replacement in the ninth. “I didn’t think I would ever be doing that, playing in the Spring Game and a baseball game on the same day. This has been unbelievable, obviously a dream come true and hard to put into words.”
The South Eugene graduate is successfully navigating a two-sport schedule that few athletes at Oregon have ever attempted. He is one of 15 players in FBS who competed in both football and baseball in 2022.
The two sports often overlap during the year, but never more so than during the past month when he would attend spring football practice in the morning before joining the baseball team for workouts and games.
“Before I started doing two sports, I told myself that whatever season I am in, I am not going to miss anything related to that sport, I owe that to my teammates,” Boettcher said. “So I went to everything for baseball and I was usually able to get to everything football-related unless we were on the road for baseball.”
Boettcher will continue to split his time between sports during the summer when he plays for the Springfield Drifters in the West Coast League while doing offseason conditioning with the football program. UO baseball coach Mark Wasikowski and assistant Jack Marder helped Boettcher find a fit with Springfield, which plays 57 games in the summer wood-bat league featuring some of the top college players in the country.
“Football will be my No. 1 priority in the summer because we are going into football season, but during afternoons and some weekends we have off, I will be able to play with the Drifters,” Boettcher said. “The idea was to get some at-bats going into my senior season in baseball to give me the best chance for success and see live pitching before fall baseball. At first, I was thinking of just sticking with football in the summer, but since the Drifters are local and I will have some free time before fall camp, I like the idea of seeing live pitching instead of just hitting in the cages.”
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Boettcher was a three-sport star at South Eugene who earned all-conference honors in football, basketball, and baseball. He arrived at Oregon in the fall of 2020 for baseball and played in 81 games during his first two seasons, mostly as a defensive replacement in the outfield.
Last March, he heard about walk-on tryouts for football, but could not attend because he had a baseball game that day. Wasikowski set Boettcher up for a meeting with Lanning, who invited him to come out for summer workouts that led to a spot on the roster in the fall.
“The past two years playing baseball was super fun, I loved it, but I didn’t think I would miss football as much as I did,” Boettcher said. “Then when I got back on the football field, I realized ‘Oh man, this definitely has a place in my life.’ It is special and I missed it, so I plan to do both for as long as I can.”
Boettcher is a junior in baseball with one season of eligibility remaining, but will be a junior in the fall in football and could potentially have three more years to play if he petitions for an extra COVID season.
He played in 12 football games last year for the Ducks on special teams, making two tackles while getting a total of 91 snaps.
“Growing up, my family had season tickets for the Ducks so every time I run out of the tunnel at Autzen, I check that spot and get chills remembering when I was sitting up there,” Boettcher said. “It is unbelievable.”
Boettcher had three tackles and broke up a pass during the Spring Game.
“You talk about impressive people, I said ‘I hope we have a camera following you today Bryce’,” Lanning said. “He was pushing everyone in the locker room and asked ‘Coach, is it OK?’ and I said ‘Go play the game, you’re good’. He’s had a great baseball season and he’s certainly a valuable Duck.”
Boettcher is batting .237 with two home runs and six RBIs in 27 games, including 11 starts, for the 17th-ranked Ducks, who are 30-14, including a 13-8 Pac-12 mark that puts them third in the conference. He already has a career-high 38 at-bats and nine hits despite splitting the spring with football for the first time.
“It has been a fun season, we have a good squad going and a good group of guys,” Boettcher said. “It is fun to see what our team has accomplished, but we still have a long way to go.”
The Drifters open the season on June 2 at Hamlin Field against Port Angeles, but Boettcher hopes to get a late start by helping Oregon go on a long postseason run.
“I am fired up to work with Bryce,” Springfield Drifters coach Tommy Richards said. “I have heard a lot of good things about him. He seems to be a guy who is a great role model and what he’d done playing two sports is impressive.”
Steve Mims has spent 25 years as a sportswriter, including 21 years at The Register-Guard. He covered University of Oregon athletics from 2013-2020. He works in Eugene as a registered representative and insurance agent at PBC Insurance. He can be reached at email@example.com.