Baum believes lacrosse team made the right moves to become a contender
Peter Baum was the nation’s leading scorer in 2012 and Colgate’s first Tewaaraton winner. (Photos courtesy of Colgate University.)
Peter Baum is looking forward to becoming a weekend warrior for the Ohio Machine, a Major League Lacrosse team which plays out of Delaware. Like many of his teammates, the Colgate University graduate lives out of town but will join his fellow cogs in the Machine every weekend for games. “Yeah it’ll be pretty different,” says Baum, the 2012 Tewaaraton Trophy winner for the Raiders and the top pick in the 2013 MLL Collegiate Draft for the Ohio Machine. “It’ll be different to build a sense of chemistry when you are only playing together once or twice a week. “At the same time, the guys who are playing in this league are playing at such a high level. They understand how to play a sport, not just from the physical standpoint but from the mental side. It makes things easier to jell once we get playing.” President and General Manager John Algie will count on Baum and a host of new talent to help the Machine improve on their second consecutive 2­12 finish in their two­year history. The Machine finished behind Denver (14­0), Chesapeake (9­5), Hamilton (9­5), Charlotte (7­7), Rochester (6­8), Boston (5­9) and New York (4­10) in the regular season. The team showed marked improvement from June on, losing seven games by three goals or less. “We are very happy to welcome Peter to the Machine organization,” Algie says. “During his career at Colgate, Peter was the best player in collegiate lacrosse. His combination of physical tools, vision and play­making ability are the traits we look for in our players, and we are excited to add a player of Peter’s caliber to our roster.” “The first and foremost thing I’m looking forward to is being a part of an exciting roster John Algie and (Machine coach) Bear Davis have put together,” Baum says. “If you look up and down the roster, there’s a ton of talent. I think we stack up pretty well and I am excited to play with all those people. Mike Murphy, who coached Baum at Colgate, believes the former Raider could be a lynch pin in what it takes to help turn things around for the Machine. “It is in Peter's DNA to be successful,” says Murphy, whose team was 36­26 overall during Baum’s tenure. “He is not afraid of the work that it will take. He loves the gym, he loves to work out. He has gotten stronger over the course of the year. He will have to be able to take the pounding of an MLL season and I think he will do that.” The ability to play lacrosse may indeed have been part of Baum’s chemical makeup. His father Richard also played for Colgate in the mid­1970s. However, Baum is not a product of his environment. When he was growing up in Portland, Ore., Baum experimented with lacrosse sticks when he was in third grade but never played on a team until he was in sixth grade because there weren’t any youth lacrosse programs to speak of. “I was a big hockey player growing up but once I started playing lacrosse in sixth grade, I just realized I was much better at lacrosse than I was at hockey,” Baum says. “I was really able to use my foot speed.” Baum earned All­State and All­American honors in 2008 and 2009 and scored 180 goals and 70 assists for Portland (Ore.) Lincoln High School. And yet he wasn’t much more than a blip on many of the East Coast collegiate lacrosse powers’ radars until the summer before his senior year. The midfielder ended up spurning overtures from Maryland, Virginia and Duke to play for Colgate where both his father and his mother Jill graduated from in 1978. “Being from a place like Oregon, it took a long time for me to get the attention,” he says. “I’ve been very blessed to have some people working hard in my corner to get me on college coaches’ radars. “Hopefully that helped pave the way for a lot of other players coming from places like Oregon, Washington and California. My former high school team now has four Division I college recruits on its roster so it is exciting to say I helped have a hand in that.” Baum was Colgate’s leading scorer all four years. In 2012, his junior year, Baum was the nation’s leading scorer with 97 points (67 goals, 30 assists). Colgate finished 14­4overall after losing to Duke 17­6 in its first national quarterfinal appearance. At the end of the season, Baum became Colgate’s first Tewaaraton Trophy winner. The award is considered to be lacrosse’s equivalent to the Heisman Trophy. “It was amazing to come from Oregon and win that award,” he says. “It was one of those things I never dreamed about. It was one of the greatest moments of my life, for sure.” It also may have been one of the toughest things for Baum to live with. Syracuse’s Mike Powell, who won the Tewaaraton Award in 2002 and 04, is the only player to win the trophy twice and he didn’t repeat, winning it his sophomore and senior seasons. Winning the award as a junior put Baum in the cross hairs of every opponent’s defense for the following season. He still was Colgate’s leading scorer with 34 goals and 15 assists, but his points per game average was nearly cut in half, going from 5.3 goals a game to 3.3. “Winning the Tewaaraton put a bull’s­eye on his back,” Murphy says. “Every time he took the field he was the No. 1 object of most defenses to stop. More teams slid early to get the ball out of his stick or pressed out to make it harder for him to get the ball or just tried to shut him off.” As a member of the Machine, Baum may not face that kind of attention with the amount of talent on the team’s roster. Ohio also features two other Tewaaraton winners, midfielder Kyle Harrison, the 2005 Tewaaraton Award winner while leading Johns Hopkins to a national championship and was a finalist for the honor two other times, and Steele Stanwick, the 2011 Tewaaraton winner from Virginia. Other Tewaaraton finalists on the Machine roster include Tom Schreiber (a 2013 finalist from Princeton University) and attacker Marcus Holman (a 2012 and 2013 finalist from North Carolina). As the Machine prepares for its season, Baum grasps just how lucky he is. “You grow up dreaming just about playing college lacrosse and then you realize how few guys get to play professional lacrosse,” Baum says. “You look at some of the greats from college lacrosse over the last couple of years and not all of them get the chance to play at the next level. “(Playing professional lacrosse is) something that has been on my list for a while. I am really looking forward to getting a chance to play. I don’t think there’s another program in the MLL I would rather be a part of.”