Baseball has been my favorite sport ever since I was a kid. Starting little league at the age of 7, some of my most fond memories has to do with the baseball park. Either watching others, playing, or going to big league gams. My father was an active part of my baseball playing days. He coached me for years, spent hours with me hitting ground balls or throwing batting practice. He taught me the work ethic needed to become a first class athlete and how to never give up.
Starting high school (South Torrance High School) my freshman year, I made the freshman team as the starting shortstop. Our team was not the greatest, but I still enjoyed it and played hard. Between my freshman and sophmore year, I hit a major growth spirt. I grew something like 5-6 inches and came back this lanky, uncordinated, goofy looking kid. I still remember the coach asking me what happen to his shortstop? He immediately moved me to third base. That was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. Although I was a good shortstop, I was a much better third baseman. Having played it at times throughout my little league years (mostly during all-stars), I was more natural fit there. I had a strong arm and great reflexes. I was tough, so getting hit with the ball didn’t seem to bother me.
As I moved up through sophmore and junior years, I started to really find myself with baseball. By my senior year, it was all starting to come together for me. I lead the team in hitting, batting .411 for the year, led the league in triples (would have been homeruns, but most of the fields we played on didn’t have fences). I would hit it a country mile, but after being thrown out at home three times in a row, my coach decided triples were just fine. 🙂 I was not the fastest in the world.
I remember being approached by Jack French, a scout with the San Francisco Giants. He had read about me in the paper and came to see me in action. He said what stood out to him was a third baseman that was leading the leauge in triples. Usually this was done by an outfielder, some one know for their speed. The day he came to watch me, I hit two more. So with my third base skills and my hitting coming together, it made for a good combination.
I was invited to go play out in the valley in their semi-pro team league. I joined the Giants out there for about 1 year, year and a half. I remember at one point, our starting infield was me at third, Royce Clayton at shortstop, Demitri Young at first, and Mike Lebrathal behind the late. All three of them went on to play in the big leagues. I like to refer to myself as having a gift, but didn’t have “THE” gift.
Luckily, my Dad was not only a good coach, but served as a good agent as well. After playing with them for a short time, the main scout George Genovese, entered my into the baseball draft of 1989. I was drafted in the 35 round. I was offered a contract with the SF Giants, however the amount of money they were offering was not enough to give up collegiate baseball. I tried out for the team at El Camino Community College, played one year with them before moving back to Tennessee. Once back here, I played one more year of Jr. College baseball up in Cleveland, TN under coach Steve Longley.