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Mountaineers in the Pros

Ex-MLB Pitcher Seth McClung Points to Greg Van Zant as Why He Didn’t Play for WVU



Lewisburg, West Virginia native Seth McClung took to Twitter in the early hours of Monday morning to clear the air about why he never played for his home state’s beloved Mountaineers.

For McClung, the choice to spurn West Virginia was simple: he didn’t want to play for Greg Van Zant, the Mountaineers’ former baseball coach. 

McClung played baseball for the University of South Alabama and later in the Major Leagues for the better part of six seasons, primarily with the Tampa Bay Rays and Milwaukee Brewers. Nicknamed ‘Big Red’ for his hulking frame, the 6-foot-6, 280 pound power pitcher split time between the starting rotation and the bullpen in MLB.  

McClung said his dislike for Van Zant outweighed what could have been a match made in heaven, a kid from Lewisburg playing with his home state on his uniform.

“I had wanted to sign with [West Virginia] during high school,” McClung tweeted. “I was a kid from WV, I thought my community would really stand behind that decision.”

However, it wasn’t meant to be. McClung said Van Zant’s demeanor put him off from the start.

The two met at a baseball showcase on the first day McClung was able to receive college offers, and McClung says Van Zant pressured him to sign immediately. McClung said he had received interest from a number of college coaches to that point and wanted to take his time with the decision, especially because he was only a junior. He described the vibe he got from Van Zant with colorful humor. 

“Strong pressure too,” McClung wrote. “Like, I got candy in the van kind of vibes.”

Official Visit? Not Quite.

McClung then explains that Van Zant called him later on looking to set up what McClung believed to be an official visit. 

“He said, drive up, I’ll pay for your gas, I’ll pay for your hotel and meals. I got there and he said send me your receipts and I’ll reimburse you,” McClung wrote. “Needless to say nothing was paid for by WVU. He put me with a few players on the team instead of the hotel, I slept on the couch and they acted like they didn’t even want me there. Van Zant never reimbursed my family and when I asked him if I could have a game hat or buy one, he said our hats are special, only for $100 or $500 donations or our players….”

Given his height, McClung also wanted to see if he could play college basketball. He used the visit as an opportunity to see if the Mountaineers would be interested in his hooping ability, asking Van Zant to speak to the basketball staff for him. McClung said that Van Zant laughed off the idea that a Big East coach would have any interest in him but agreed to ask anyway.

Basketball actually runs in the McClung family. Seth is the uncle of 2023 NBA Slam Dunk Contest champion Mac McClung. 

When the basketball staff told Van Zant that they’d love to have McClung on the team, Van Zant “had a grumpy look on his face, more than normal,” and said that McClung couldn’t play both sports.

For McClung, the choice was clear.

“There was no way in hell I was going to play for this [P.O.S]. I couldn’t trust my future in his hands when he was so cheap in every way,” McClung wrote. “I knew if he was acting this way before I stepped on campus and after I showed up for my visit, this wasn’t a safe place for my career…This man was not good for anyone’s future.”

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