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April 11, 2016
By Lexi Ryan, media relations assistant
An excerpt of this story appears in the spring 2016 edition of the Northwest Alumni Magazine. To view more content from the magazine and an e-edition of the magazine, visit www.nwmissouri.edu/alumni/magazine/.
Dan Segel never realized his dream of becoming a professional baseball player, but the experiences he had at Northwest Missouri State University helped him set his sights on a different part of the field.
Today, Dan Segel is president of the Corvallis Knights, a winning summer collegiate baseball club in Oregon.
After earning his bachelor’s degree in business administration and management at Northwest in 1988, Segel and his brother founded the Knights in 1990 as a recreational team. The organization evolved from a city league team to a semi-pro team before becoming a collegiate baseball club in 2005. They are named for Penny Knight, their top sponsor and the wife of Nike co-founder Phil Knight.
The Knights ended their semi-pro era by winning the NBC World Series in 2004. Since becoming a collegiate team and moving from the Portland area to Corvallis, the franchise is the West Coast League’s most successful franchise, having captured three league titles. They were ranked No. 3 in the final summer college baseball national poll in 2013.
The Knights have featured 158 players who signed with Major League Baseball clubs during the last three decades, including 47 players who are active professional players. Eleven of those players appeared in Major League games in 2015.
The Knights enjoy a partnership with Oregon State University, with which they share a stadium. Attendance grew 15 percent last year, with a little more than 1,500 coming to each game. And the organization’s revenues have reached nearly $1 million a year.
“Once we got it going, we’ve really kept it at a high level and we continue to grow every year,” Segel said.
Segel was named West Coast League Executive of the Year in 2007, 2008 and 2009. But he is more proud of the organization’s community connections than championships and awards.
“My proudest moment is to see how much involvement we have in the community in the Corvallis area and to see the connection between the team and the community on so many different levels,” Segel said. “To say that I could ever do anything like this when I was in college, no way.”
Before becoming president of the Corvallis Knights in 2002, Segel also ran a small advertising agency in Portland for 11 years. That experience helped him develop the business marketing, management and administration skills he employs with the Knights.
“I’m in love with baseball. It’s my sanctuary, and I’ve just always been connected to it in some respects,” Segel said. “What can be better than baseball? In my eyes, there’s nothing better. To be able to sell that product and market that product, I always tell my friends I am the luckiest person in the world to be able to do this.”
Growing up in the Portland area, Segel didn’t know Northwest existed until he was offered a baseball scholarship as he completed his baseball career and an associate degree at Linn-Benton Community College in Albany, Oregon. Segal, a first baseman who was inducted into the Northwest Athletic Conference Hall of Fame in recognition of his career at Linn-Benton, had been confident about advancing to a Division I school and improving his professional prospects before a collision at home plate during his second year at the junior college.
He accepted a scholarship offer to play baseball at Northwest instead.
“The reason I went to Maryville, sight unseen, was that the schedule at the time was really attractive,” Segel said. “It was a Division II program and played a lot of Division I teams with a lot of games, and it was a really neat schedule. That was exciting to me.”
During his junior and senior seasons at Northwest, Segel earned all-conference honors with the Bearcats. While his hopes of being drafted by a major league franchise didn’t pan out, Segel says his decision to attend Northwest helped him focus on his academic and career goals.
“When I got there, it kind of clicked,” Segel said “You’ve got to be diligent in the classroom. You’ve got to work hard. I had to outwork people to achieve,” Segel said. “Being at Northwest molded my work ethic.”
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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