It's been a pretty good year for former Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch, and it's only going to get better.
In February Batch received a special delivery, his degree from Robert Morris University where he completed his Masters in Science, with the focus on Organization Leadership. He finished the work for his Masters in mid-December, and will have the honor of walking with fellow graduates in May.
"Going through the Masters' program was a challenge," said Batch. "It was on my bucket list. I was in grad school when I was at Eastern Michigan and I wanted to go back and finish. Being able to do that was special. I did the first half starting in March, but the second half was during football season. There were things I had to do during the season, submitting a paper in the middle of the night after I did postgame radio for a night game. You do that for four or five night games in a row, and you talk about tired. But I was too close to the finish line. I just had to push through it. I was excited when I submitted that final paper. To be able to push through that, I was so excited."
The good news didn't stop there.
Batch learned he will be inducted into the Mid-American Conference Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2018, with enshrinment on May 30 in Cleveland, Ohio. He will join Ben Roethlisberger in the MAC Hall of Fame, as he was enshrined in 2015.
"You feel appreciated," said Batch. "It's one of those wow moments."
Batch played at Eastern Michigan University, the only Division 1 school to give him an offer. He finished as the school's leader in total offensive yards (7,715), single-season offensive yards (3,390), career passing yards (7,592), and career touchdown passes (53). He was the team's Most Valuable Player his senior season, and ranks 28th in MAC history in career passing yards and 29th in career touchdowns.
Batch went from a freshman that didn't garner a lot of interest from big schools, to the Detroit Lions second round pick in the 1998 NFL Draft.
"It's exciting and humbling at the same time," said Batch. "By no means when I went to Eastern Michigan did I think any of this was possible. I wasn't even thinking about that. I was just focused on my role.
"Going to the Mid-American Conference at the time that I did, the television contracts weren't what they were, you didn't have bowl games the way you have now. A lot of people didn't see you unless they followed the conference. Then NFL scouts come in and you think maybe I have an opportunity to play. It's started to get real when you are going through the All-Star games, the Combine and hoping you get an opportunity to showcase your skills. To get drafted in the second round was humbling in itself, but it is the work you put in. You just hope for an opportunity, and Eastern Michigan gave me that one opportunity. When I left Homestead, Pa. to go to Ypsilanti, Michigan, I didn't know what to expect. I didn't even know how to spell Ypsilanti, how long it took to get there or anything. And now this."
Batch came to the Steelers in 2002 and spent 11 seasons playing for his hometown team. During his 15-year career he played in 81 games, completing 908 passes for 11,085 yards and 61 touchdowns, and was a member of the Steelers Super Bowl XL and XLIII championship teams.
"My time at Eastern Michigan was a building block for me," said Batch. "It was just far enough away from home that it allowed me to grow up. They helped me grow as I was becoming a young man. I was able to play football, develop, get the idea for my foundation going so I can do what I am doing now to help the community."
He launched the Best of the Batch Foundation in 1999, giving kids in the Pittsburgh area a safe place to learn and grow. The foundation has a summer basketball league, a reading and computer literacy program, toy drives to help families at the holidays, and Batchpacks for Kids school program, among numerous other endeavors.
"It's going to be an exciting beginning of the month and end of the month of May," said Batch. "I am excited. I am looking forward to all of it."
The other inductees for 2018 are Orel Hershiser (Bowling Green, baseball), Dr. Carol Cartwright (Mid-American Conference/Bowling Green/Kent State, administration), Michael Turner (Northern Illinois, football), and Dana Drew-Shaw (Toledo, women's basketball).