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Josh Pyne (32) celebrates with Devin Taylor after Taylor's home run against Butler on March 29, 2024. (HN photo/Danielle Stockwell)
Josh Pyne (32) celebrates with Devin Taylor after Taylor's home run against Butler on March 29, 2024. (HN photo/Danielle Stockwell)

‘He loves his team and he’s tough as hell’: Meet Josh Pyne, Indiana’s homegrown leader

The veteran third baseman never considered playing anywhere but Indiana, and is building a legacy his family can be proud of

Thirty-five minutes southwest of Bloomington, Indiana, a house sits surrounded by trees, cornfields and creeks. It’s the kind of house where the doors are open to anyone who walks up. 

It’s home to the kind of parents who leave work early to cook for their kids and travel across the country to watch baseball games. 

It’s home to the kind of person who finds joy in fishing, hunting, exploring the outdoors and playing with his nieces as much as he does swinging a baseball bat. 

In the barn behind the house, built for tractors, there’s a batting cage completely furnished with carpets and netting. Once used constantly by kids from all around the neighborhood, it now sits empty. Its primary user has moved on to bigger and better facilities, but it will always be there just in case.

There’s a pond farther out on the property, full of fish and memories alike. It’s an escape, but has also been the site of countless shared moments between teammates and friends who all feel more like family.

Inside, the kitchen smells like steak and homemade macaroni and cheese. Outside, the woods are full of animals, the creeks babble to themselves and countryside goes on for miles. On a clear night, the sky glimmers with stars. 

It’s the kind of place everyone wants to go to and no one wants to leave.

It’s why Josh Pyne only ever wanted to be an Indiana Hoosier.

Josh Pyne warms up prior to an inning during Indiana's win over Butler on March 29, 2024. (HN photo/Danielle Stockwell)

The Bloomfield native takes comfort in knowing his entire family is just a short drive away, always there whenever he needs a break from being a baseball player. When he goes home, he’s just Josh, and he can go back to his roots.

“I grew up digging for worms and playing in the mud and playing in the dirt and just being outside all the time,” Pyne said. “It’s something that I’ll forever cherish and something that is always going to be a getaway for me. Always.”

The tattoos of a trident and the face of Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea, on his left forearm and shoulder — inspired by the Percy Jackson book series — encapsulate just how much the ballplayer loves the water and nature. The only thing he might love more is the baseball field.


Brooke Pyne looks out at Bart Kaufman Field, motioning out to the turf as she talks about her youngest son.

“This is him,” she says. “He lives it. He just loves it.”

She’s talking about baseball, yes, but she’s also talking about Indiana. Because while Josh didn’t always know he wanted to play baseball, he always knew he loved Indiana.

“It was always IU basketball, IU baseball,” Josh said. “I went to more basketball games than anything, just because small-town Indiana — basketball is king, right? But it was always like, IU’s the school.”

Josh Pyne runs home as a Little Leaguer. (Photo courtesy of Pyne family)

Thanks to his father, Jared, and his older brother, Jacob, Josh grew up surrounded by basketball and dirt bikes. Motocross was something of a calling card for the Pyne family, but Josh’s racing experience was cut short when, at eight years old, he was injured in a crash and airlifted to the hospital. Brooke stepped in and said one helicopter ride was enough for her. It was time for Josh to find another sport.

Luckily, his older brother also played another sport. Thus began Josh’s baseball journey.

He started tagging along to Jacob’s town-league practices and games, and would usually be called upon by the local coaches to grab his glove and bat and join in. He was four years younger, but talent mattered more than age.

At one of Jacob’s high school games, the family watched as the elder Pyne’s team realized they didn’t have enough players for the outfield. Searching for an answer, the team soon found the solution to their problem.

“Get in the outfield,” they told Josh as they pulled him out of the crowd.

When he got out there Brooke couldn’t do anything but wonder why on earth her son, a sixth-grader, was playing with high schoolers.

Her question was answered by the end of the game. Josh was the only player to get a hit that night.

“I’ll never forget it,” Brooke said with a smile.

Josh Pyne gets into a fielding stance as a Little Leaguer. (Photo courtesy of Pyne family)

At this point, Josh already knew he wanted to play at the highest level possible. He was excelling in travel baseball. He wanted to be a leader like Derek Jeter and a reliable, consistent player like Albert Pujols. He was good. He wanted to be better.

“Probably my second or third year of travel baseball, when I had great success, it was like I have a real shot if I just keep going, put my head down and get to work,” Josh said. “At a young age, I had the dream of college baseball and playing professionally.”

He had the dream and the talent, but more importantly, he had the work ethic.

“Regardless of what he does, he’s the all-in one,” Brooke said. “He doesn’t know anything but 110%.”

So all-in, in fact, that he would go practice hitting in the family’s barn-turned-batting cage after basketball practice without even changing clothes. A two-sport athlete through high school, Josh was a point guard and a shortstop, giving each sport his all every time he played. But one always had his heart just a little bit more.

“I wasn’t doing basketball during baseball season, but I was doing baseball during basketball season,” he said with a small smile.

And every time he imagined playing at the next level, it was in an Indiana uniform.


When Josh was a freshman in high school, he verbally committed to be a Hoosier. Was it early? Yes. Was it the right decision? Without a doubt.

“He had it in his head early on that he wanted to wear Indiana across his chest, and never wavered,” Brooke said. “He never considered any other school. Ever.”

Josh Pyne poses with his parents as a high school baseball player. (Photo courtesy of Pyne family)

Even when former IU coach Chris Lemonis, who had recruited Josh, left for Mississippi State and Jeff Mercer took over the helm in 2019, Josh’s commitment never wavered. Come what may, he was going to play baseball in Bloomington.

Sports had always come relatively easy to Josh. Then he got to Indiana. When he arrived on campus in the fall of 2021, Mercer told him he wasn’t good enough — he wasn’t strong enough, fast enough, big enough, everything. Then, he suffered his fourth concussion in the fall, forcing him to miss a crucial time to try to earn a spot on the field and throwing into question exactly where he would fit in on the team.

Josh had been a shortstop his entire career, but that role was already filled by a senior. The second base position, held by a graduate student, was also off the table. 

“I told him, the only way you can potentially get on the field is through an incredible amount of work the next six weeks,” Mercer remembers. “I thought he would redshirt. I didn’t think he would play.”

Josh took Mercer’s words to heart, spending countless hours at the field to improve every facet of his game. He became set on being the Hoosiers’ third baseman.

“I just wanted to find a way to get on the field,” Josh said. “At least a chance to be on the field, and if I blow the chance I blow the chance.”

Over Christmas break that year, Josh went home one time. 

“I have to stay up here. I have to work,” he told his parents. 

“It was probably the greatest thing I could have done for my career,” he says now.

By the end of the season, Josh was Indiana’s everyday third baseman, batting third in the lineup.

“In a million years, I wouldn’t have guessed it,” Mercer said. “But for him, he was all about overcoming that hardship. He loves Indiana, he loves his team and he’s tough as hell.”

Josh Pyne (right) celebrates during Indiana's win over Butler on March 29, 2024. (HN photo/Danielle Stockwell)

In Josh’s three years as a Hoosier, he’s missed a total of four games and played in 156. He’s the 24th Hoosier to reach 200 career hits, and just the 10th to do so in his first three years of college. As Indiana heads into the final stretch of the 2024 regular season Pyne has reestablished himself at the top part of the lineup, batting .291 with a .361 on-base percentage, after struggling at the plate in the middle of the season.

The number 32 on his jersey has become synonymous with reliability, leadership and dedication, and a representation of what happens when you work hard.

“That gives a great leader and a great example,” Mercer said. “I think it gives a great foundation for the program, it gives experience of overcoming those things that guys can learn and grow from. And it gives a love for the university that guys that aren’t from here don’t know.”

Josh Pyne looks to the dugout during Indiana's 8-1 loss to Troy on March 9, 2024. (HN photo/Danielle Stockwell)

How does Josh Pyne want to be remembered? He gazes out at Bart Kaufman Field as he ponders the question, letting out a sigh before he starts speaking. 

“I just want to be known as the gritty guy that just showed up every single day and competed for Indiana,” he finally says. “That’s really it. I don’t want people to think I didn’t give my all when I leave here, because I would give anything and I would do anything for this campus and this school.”

There’s just something about the cream and crimson, about wearing the Indiana script across his chest, that can’t quite be put into words. There’s something about making lifelong memories with his friends and family and being an inspiration for little kids that remind him of himself. He found a second family and the opportunity to grow into the kind of person he’s always wanted to be, with his family right by his side.

“Who knew you could get this perfect this close to home for him?” Brooke said. “And the funny part about that is, for me, he’s just a kid from Greene County that just wanted to play baseball and wear Indiana across his chest.”

When he walks out of the clubhouse at Bart Kaufman Field, uniform still on and Indiana emblazoned across his chest, he has one destination in mind. He moves quickly through his teammates, coaches and clumps of fans who have migrated onto the field for post-game autographs, looking for one specific group of people.

He finds them next to the third base bag, a fitting place to meet given that he had just occupied that same space for the last three hours. As he walks over, he’s greeted with hugs and fist-bumps from the adults, all of whom are ready to congratulate their star third baseman after he helped Indiana beat Penn State to win the weekend series. The people who are most excited to see him, though, don’t even reach his waist.

Josh Pyne poses with a family member after a game at Bart Kaufman Field. (Photo courtesy of Pyne family)

The smallest girl on the field toddles over and is immediately wrapped up in a bear hug. A little boy comes running over, eliciting an enthusiastic yell from the ballplayer.

“Oh, there’s trouble!”

After chatting with his grown-up family members for a minute or two, his attention is quickly drawn back to the small children running around him. As he squats back down, he is promptly jumped on from behind by the little boy.

The 32 on the back of his jersey is completely obscured as he’s swarmed by four kids all under the age of five. Gleeful laughter rings out across the field.

It was a normal postgame scene for Josh Pyne. His nieces, his parents, his brother and multiple other family members were there to see him play baseball in an Indiana uniform, as they had so many times before and as they will be for as many games as possible in the future. It was what he had always dreamed of.

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