Ty Madden leaves behind enormous legacy as he embarks on a professional career

Carter Yates, Sports Reporter

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared as part of the July 12 flipbook.

Ty Madden always had the measurables of a Day One MLB Draft pick, standing at 6 feet, 3 inches with a fastball topping out at over 95 miles per hour. But the leadership Madden showed in an unusual three-year period of Texas baseball proved he could pair his daunting physical tools with impressive mental toughness and leadership.

It’s easy to look at Madden’s stellar 2021 campaign and credit that single-season performance as the reason why he was selected 32nd overall by the Detroit Tigers on Sunday night. However, there were two years of adversity that molded the 2021 Big 12 Pitcher of the Year’s mental makeup before the storybook season in which he led the Longhorns to a College World Series. As a freshman in 2019, Madden compiled a 3.40 ERA and a 4-1 record on the mound, but the Longhorns went 7-16 in conference play and finished the year last in the Big 12 Conference. The next year Texas got off to a furious 14-3 start as Madden dominated from the mound with a 1.80 ERA, but the season was abruptly cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Madden’s gutsy individual performances and intense work ethic during a last-place finish and a cancelled season endeared him to Longhorn fans, and they showed their appreciation for the right-hander with a standing ovation after his last start at UFCU Disch-Falk Field in Game 1 of the Austin Super Regional against USF on June 12.

“It’s been a crazy three years, I think people have definitely seen the lows and the highs,” Madden said in the postgame press conference. “My first year being last in the Big 12, and last year the group we had, having to say goodbye after a couple games and coming back (this year), it’s crazy. No one would draw it up this way.”

Texas head coach David Pierce recruited Madden out of high school, but he almost never got the chance to coach him. As a prospect, Madden was selected in the 34th round of the 2018 MLB Draft by the Kansas City Royals. In the end, Madden chose to develop his game at Texas and became an undisputed leader whose fingerprints will be all over the Longhorns’ program for years to come.

“What the kid has done for our team, his leadership and his work ethic, has helped mold this culture, helped younger players and helped older players,” Pierce said on June 12. “(He’s) been such an ambassador of our program.”
For Pierce, the biggest contributions Madden brought to the table never lied in his exemplary on-field performance, but rather the work he put in to rebuild Texas’ culture following two years of lackluster results that threatened to derail the program.

“I think more than anything that I’ve been so pleased with is just the leadership from Ty (Madden) and (redshirt junior pitcher) Tristan (Stevens),” Pierce said following the end of Texas’ season on June 26. “This group, starting last spring, started really creating that attitude that we were looking for.”

While Madden enjoyed a solid run in the College World Series, pitching 13 innings and racking up 18 strikeouts with only four earned runs, the poetic end for his Texas career came on the night of June 12. As Madden’s teammates embraced him, Pierce brought in freshman pitcher Tanner Witt to replace the redshirt sophomore. But instead of taking the ball from his pitcher and handing it to the reliever, Pierce instead told Madden to personally give the ball to Witt, a younger player whom Texas’ ace had mentored.

In that moment, Madden’s work forming Texas’ newfound identity ended, and the new guard was tasked with carrying on his legacy.

“They were hugging him, they were pumped for him. All I said to him, I said ‘Hell of a job, you emptied the tank,’” Pierce said after the game. “He handed me the ball and I said, ‘No, you hand it to him.’ When Tanner (Witt) came in, he deserved that ovation and I wanted to make sure that he got it.”