Year Inducted – 2014
Former Wadsworth High School standout Andy Sonnanstine made his most recent impression in the baseball circles of America as an author: “Tampa Bay Rays IQ: The Ultimate Test of True Fandom.” Before turning to the typewriter, Sonnanstine was writing records for Wadsworth High School and Kent State University along with pitching in the big leagues with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for 5 seasons. Sonnanstine experienced a dominant youth and high school experience growing up in Wadsworth. He earned a scholarship to pitch at perennial college powerhouse Kent State University. After struggling through two injury-plagued seasons at Kent State University, Sonnanstine exploded onto the radar screen of every big-league team when he posted to an 11-4 record with a 2.52 ERA in 2004. He was named Co-MVP of the Mid-American Conference Tournament in leading Kent State to the title and a berth in an NCAA regional event in South Bend, Ind. The hard-throwing right-hander was brilliant in his start in the Notre Dame Regional, allowing only 1 unearned run with 7 strikeouts as the fourth-seeded Golden Flashes upset the top-seeded Fighting Irish 2-1 in the opening game. Sonnanstine, who was drafted in the 13th round of the 2004 MLB Draft by Tampa Bay, signed with the Devil Rays shortly after Kent State was eliminated in the regional. It’s been a dream of mine to play pro ball since I was 5 or 6 years old, Sonnanstine said, explaining why he gave up his final two years of eligibility at Kent State. This is something I’ve always wanted to do, and now the dream is knocking on my front door. Sonnanstine deftly answered the knocks of opportunity. He quickly rose through the Tampa Bay organization and reached the majors in the latter stages of the first half of the 2007 season after posting a 6-4 record with a 2.66 ERA at Class AAA Durham. He got his first big-league win on June 10 against the Florida Marlinsand went 6-10 with a 5.85 ERA as a rookie in 2007, then recorded a career-best 13 wins against nine losses and a 4.38 ERA in 2008. Sonnanstine recorded one of the biggest wins in franchise history on Oct. 6, 2008, when he beat the Chicago White Sox to clinch an American League Division Series for the Rays. He also beat the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS, but suffered a loss to the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series. He went 6-9 in 2009 and then his career was derailed by injuries. He was 3-1 in 2010 with Rays and then appeared in his final game Sept. 20, 2011, at the age of 28. He compiled a 28-31 record with a 5.26 ERA over 540.1 innings in his big-league career.