January Baseball Blog

Jan 17, 2014 - Posted by Ralph R. Zobell on January 17, 2014 at 12:53 pm | Updated: February 4, 2014 9:59 pm

GUTHRIE'S REMARKS AT FIRST PITCH DINNER
For photos from the Jan. 18 First Pitch Dinner visit this link

Major League pitcher Jeremy Guthrie, accompanied by his son Hudson, spoke for 45 minutes at the Marriott Center where BYU baseball had a goal of raising $50,000 and a $12,000 scholarship. Among those in attendance at the fundraiser were former pro players Dane Iorg, Vance Law, Vernon Law and current pitcher Brandon Lyon, who played for coach Mike Littlewood at Dixie State.

“There is no way to take out what the gospel has meant to me,” Guthrie began. He told of a Sports Illustrated article on Michael Jordan which hangs in Guthrie’s basement about giving your best. He quoted legendary UCLA coach John Wooden, “success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.”

Guthrie related an experience from high school when he wasn’t selected to be the starting quarterback at first. He later became the starter and said, “When you don’t get what you want, you need to be prepared.”

Guthrie attended Especially For Youth at BYU as a 17-year-old senior. “I was overwhelmed by the spirit that I felt. My friend and I listened to all the speakers.” He told of listening to Brad Wilcox, who told us “we would be excellent missionaries.” Later Guthrie sent tapes to Norm Chow to walk on at BYU. He had been offered $320,000 by the Padres, but ended up drafted by the Mets in the 15th round. Guthrie flew to New York and pitched in the bullpen at Shea Stadium. 

“I read about the Million Dollar Missionary, McKay Christensen, and told them (the Mets) that story. They said, ‘If we offered you a million dollars would you pass up that chance to be a missionary?’ So many decisions we make in life that dictate where we will end up.” Guthrie turned down that proposition and ended up serving a mission to Spain after one year at BYU. He told of his ups and downs at BYU.

“I was ready to be a missionary at the end of my freshman year. After my mission, I was given a chance to transfer to Stanford. I was told by coach Mark Marquess that I would be the closer which meant being asked to pitch on Sundays.” Guthrie pondered Marquess’ offer and told him he would not pitch on Sundays. Marquess countered by making him a starter for the next 40 Fridays in the next two seasons. That observance carried over to the pro ranks for Guthrie who decided to “treat the Sabbath different that I did other days at the ballpark. My wife didn’t attend games on Sundays.”

Guthrie related trials working up through AA and AAA with the Cleveland Indians, then playing for the Baltimore Orioles, Colorado Rockies and finally the Kansas City Royals. “I was the 25th guy to make the team with the Orioles. I was given the ball three times on opening day.

Guthrie closed by saying, “I enjoy the struggle of being on top of (my) game. It will be taken away as quickly as it is given to you. Focus by the effort I was giving.” He recalled hearing an October 1999 General Conference address by Bishop Richard C. Edgley.

“Give your best,” Guthrie said. “Understand and identify what success is, never get down as long as we do our best.”

PLAYING IN ARIZONA
BYU opens its season with a four-game series against Kansas at the Mariners/Rangers Spring Training Complex in Peoria, Ariz. BYU's team will be holding a tri-stake fireside on Feb. 16 at the Glendale Arizona North Stake Center, 4901 W. Union Hills Dr. at 6 p.m.

Other NCAA schools playing in Arizona at pro facilities in February include those on Feb. 14  when Minnesota and Northern Illinois play at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, spring training home of the Chicago White Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers;  and Nebraska, Gonzaga, Pacific play in the Husker Classic at the Spring Training home of the Los Angeles Angels in  Tempe's Diablo Stadium. 

On Feb.21-24  at the Big10-Pac12 Tournament in Surprise at the Kansas City Royals Spring Training facility Utah joins Washington, Oregon State, Michigan State, Nebraska and Indiana.

And on Feb. 27-March 2  Gonzaga, Santa Clara, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Manhattan, and Arizona State play in Surprise.

COUGARS IN ST. GEORGE
BYU has a couple of practices in St. George before it opens the home season vs. Seattle University in a three-game series at St. George on Feb. 27, 28 and March 1 at Dixie's Bruce Hurst Field.

Those practices will be Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 (Dixie High), 7 and 8 in St. George in an effort to avoid cabin fever.

Last March BYU baseball moved its home opening games vs. Creighton to St. George because of weather and won two of the three games in bookend fashion. The Cougars played in St. George in 1999 and 1998 in Southern Utah Chiropractice and Ed Stangue tournaments against Southern Utah, Washington, Mesa State, Lewis-Clark State and San Francisco. BYU's record in St. George is 5-6.

AT&T BALLPARK
Spacious AT&T Ballpark (41,915 seats) will be the site of the third game BYU plays at San Francisco. The Cougars play the first two games at cozy Beneditti Diamond (2,000 seats, 315-415-321) and finish the series at AT&T Ballpark (339-399-309) where BYU's football team played last December in the Fight Hunger Bowl, drawing 34,136 fans in a 31-16 loss to No. 25 Washington). This season BYU is also playing at pro ballparks in Corpus Christi, Texas; Pasco, Wash.; and Spring Mobile Ballpark in Salt Lake City. The top attendance for a BYU baseball game was 11,699 at the Kingdome in Seattle vs. Notre Dame in 1994 when the Cougars also played Washington in that facility.

CAMERON TUCKETT AWARD
The winner of the 2013 Cameron Tuckett Award was Adam Law, who was presented the award by former BYU coach Glen Tuckett at the January First Pitch Dinner. For a complete list of past winners of the Cameron Tuckett Award please visit this link.

INJURED PLAYERS
Pitcher Marc Oslund and outfielder Christian Mua will not be competing during the 2014 season due to injuries that did not permit full participation with the team.

BELATED CHRISTMAS GREETINGS
BYU pitcher Kolton Mahoney, Cougar marketing director Bill Hoops and sports information director Ralph Zobell are the baseball connections on last December's Athletic Department Christmas card. You can view a PDF of that card through this link.

BAPTISM LAST DECEMBER
Senior pitcher Chris Howard was baptized last December, see photo below, with him circled front and center. The left-handed reliever was voted one of four co-captains by his teammates for the 2014 season and redshirted last year due to Tommy John surgery. Over 50 current and former players were among those at the baptism.

LITTLEWOOD WEDDING
During the off season, BYU junior tennis player Morgan Anderson from St. George married Marcus Littlewood last November. Marcus, the youngest son of BYU coach Mike Littlewood, plays catcher for the Seattle Mariner organization. You can view her bio here on the tennis team website. FYI, BYU's baseball 2014 team has five players who are married: Jeff Barker, Jarrett Jarvis, Brandon Kinser, Dillon Robinson, and Brock Whitney.

FOUR-YEAR TRANSFERS
There are three transfers on this year's team from four-year schools, Rhett Nelson, Dallen Reber and Michael Rucker. Nelson played at Santa Clara prior to serving a mission to Chile and transferring to Salt Lake Community College. Reber played at Kentucky prior to serving a mission also to Chile. And Rucker played last year at Gonzaga, but will have to sit out this season at BYU according to NCAA transfer rules.

MISSED ON LAST BLOG
Assistant coach Trent Pratt was among those given a Cougar Paw award at last August's meeting with the BYU Athletic Department.