Nebraska already has one of the best players in school history at the helm of its baseball program, but the Huskers are poised to add another one to the baseball staff for the 2013-14 season.
Ken Harvey, a consensus first-team All-American at first base for the Huskers in 1999, told Hail Varsity that he is returning to Nebraska to finish his degree and will join head coach Darin Erstad’s staff as a student assistant.
“I’m just at a point in my life where you can make certain decisions and I chose to finish what I started,” Harvey said. “I really want to get into coaching but I don’t just want to do it back-handedly. I want to earn my keep.
“The first order of business is to get my degree and what better place to go than where I prospered?”
Harvey played from 1997 to 1999 at Nebraska and still ranks second in school history with a .426 career batting average. As a junior, he was named the Easton Redline Defensive Player of the Year, led the nation with a .476 batting average, and was a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award given annually to the nation’s best amateur baseball player.
The Kansas City Royals selected Harvey in the fifth round (151st overall) of the 1999 Major League Baseball draft. He made his major league debut on Sept. 18, 2001 and spent four years with the Royals. In 2004 Harvey was selected to the MLB All-Star game, and hit .287 with 13 home runs and 55 RBIs in 120 games that season.
Harvey called Erstad earlier this summer to express his interest in completing his communications degree at Nebraska while transitioning into coaching as a student assistant.
“We had a heart-to-heart about what my intentions were and what I was thinking,” Harvey said. “Once that was all laid out, it was smooth sailing from there.”
Harvey expects to be in Lincoln by the end of this week and the first order of business is getting back into the academic swing of things for the former pro. The baseball part of it, he said, should take care of itself.
“I’m not really worried about that. That’ll be a natural thing.”
After spending parts of the last seven seasons in the minors, how familiar is Harvey with the current state of Nebraska baseball? Not very, but that’s by design.
“To be honest, I don’t really want to know anything,” he said. “I’m going to go in and see with my own eyes. I think I best judge talent once I just see for myself.
“It’s not something where you want to hear ‘well, this guy’s that’ or ‘this guy’s this.’ I think I’m a great judge of talent — the strengths they have, the weaknesses — by just the naked eye.”