As Andrew Law sat in the training room, he could see his hopes of a successful senior season and a chance to play professional baseball nearly slipping away.
“I remember sitting there with my dad and the trainer talking about the situation,” said Law, a six-foot-one second baseman for the BYU baseball team. “I was stressing about the possibility that my senior season could go by without me playing more than a handful of games.”
Law, a Provo native, had been looking forward to continuing the success he had seen as a Cougar during his final year of eligibility and hopefully playing at the next level. As it turns out, playing at the next level is something that has become somewhat of a family business.
Law’s father and head coach for the Cougars, Vance, was a 39th round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1978. He went on to play 14 years of professional baseball, including 10 at the major league level. Vance’s career included stints with the Chicago White Sox (1982-84), Montreal Expos (1985-87), Chicago Cubs (1988-89) and Oakland Athletics (1991). At the time of Andrew’s injury, Vance was beginning his 11th season at the helm of the BYU baseball program.
“I like playing for my Dad because we can be on more of a personal level,” Law said. “If I do something wrong he can tell me because both he and I know that it isn’t just criticism, it’s on a real personal level. We get along really well and we can just talk things over.”
Coach Law’s father, Vernon, a regular at Larry H. Miller Field, won the 1960 Cy Young Award while leading the Pittsburgh Pirates to a World Series championship over the New York Yankees in that same year.
However, despite an impressive pedigree and a life filled with stories of Harry Caray and Mickey Mantle, Law said he doesn’t feel pressure to live up to the name, at least not anymore.
“I remember coming out of high school as a local recruit and I felt pressure to show that I deserved to be at BYU. I wanted to show that I wasn’t recruited by BYU because my Dad was the coach and my grandpa was a Cy Young winner,” Law said. “But now that I have grown up a little bit and seen success and recognition from sources outside of my family, I don’t put as much pressure on myself. I am just doing my best and if that’s not enough to get me into professional ball then so be it, but it was good enough to get me to where I’m at today.”
Today Law is at the top of the line-up for a perennial Mountain West Conference contender. As a junior, he was second on the team in stolen bases with 18 swipes in 20 attempts. He also tallied 27 RBI, 14 doubles and two home runs. Law batted .346 in 26 games a freshman with 11 runs and six RBI.
After starting the 2010 campaign with a .471 average and four stolen bases in only four games, the senior co-captain got a surprise while attempting to swipe another.
“I came out and started opening day and felt great and then I was stealing second base in the fifth game of the season and I felt a pop behind my knee,” said the two-year starter. “I didn’t know what it was, but I knew something bad had happened.”
He was right. The pop turned out to be a tear in his hamstring, an injury that would prove costly for the Cougars, and Law’s anticipated senior season.
“It was disappointing because he was a senior and he worked really hard in the fall,” said former teammate Jonathan Cluff, right fielder for the Cougars. “You can tell he’s out there playing for the team not just for himself. He works hard each and every day. It’s fun to play with guys like Andrew because you know they’re pulling for you as much as you’re pulling for them.”
With the help of trainers, Law began rehab and was hopeful of a quick return.
“I was hoping to get back within two or three weeks, but it ended up extending further than I expected,” Law said of his rehab.
With the threat of missing a large portion of the regular season looming, Law considered his options; one being to apply for a medical redshirt after a season’s worth of rehab, a lengthy process that is not guaranteed. His second option was to work hard to get back into playing shape and most likely return to action for the last two or three weeks of the season, including the MWC tournament.
“According to the rules, you have to rehab and work to get better and if you are not healed by the end of the season, you can apply for a medical redshirt,” Law said. “Redshirting was an option but it wasn’t for sure and if it didn’t go through then I would have sat out my last season and baseball would be over.”
Rehab continued, and it became evident a return to the diamond was further away than anticipated. A medical redshirt was becoming the best option, and while rehab continued, the lengthy process of petitioning the NCAA began. However, despite Law’s absence on the field, he found ways to contribute.
“I don’t feel like the injury affected the leadership or chemistry of the team,” said Cluff, who completed his senior season in 2010. “He continued to be around the team and interact with everyone even though he was hurt. It showed the guys he was still there for them and doing what he could to help the team.”
Season’s end came, and while Law was still unsure about his future in baseball, his hamstring was finally healing and the East coast was calling.
As Law played a mix of second base and outfield for the Holyoke Blue Sox of the New England Collegiate Baseball League, a torn hamstring proved to be an obstacle.
“Going into summer ball I was having a hard time because I hadn’t seen live pitching in so long and I was real worried about my leg because I hadn’t used it,” Law said. “I didn’t know if one day I was going to take off out of the batter’s box and it was going to pop again. “
However, Law was able to get comfortable in a timely manner and, in 28 games for the Blue Sox, he hit .341 with 11 RBI, four doubles and three triples. He also added one home run and nine walks.
Law’s success in New England allowed him to extend his summer on the east coast. The prestigious Cape Cod league showed interest and Law joined the Yarmouth-Dennis Redsox for the second half of the season. Law played in seven games for a Redsox team that reached the Cape Cod League Championship Series, before falling to the Cotuit Kettleers in the third and final game of the championship series.
A successful summer of baseball for Law ended with good news. In early August, word finally arrived from the NCAA that Law’s application for a medical redshirt had been accepted and that he would be allowed to compete during the 2011 season.
“I think I’m back on track again. My hitting is back on and I am feeling pretty good,” Law mentioned of his return. “What I have learned about game preparation and other aspects has been really helpful.”
As Law enters his final season of baseball at BYU (for the second time), he said he is confident his experience will benefit him and the program in preparation for a 2011 season that looks promising.
Despite losing four starters in the field, including MWC career home run leader Sean McNaughton, the Cougars will return starters at vital positions, including center field, third base and catcher.
Also returning for the Cougars are fellow redshirt senior pitchers Blake Torgerson and Jared Miller, who are both recovering from Tommy John surgery that put their 2010 seasons on hold. Senior leadership on the mound, combined with experience in the field and experience returning to the line up, has Law looking forward to his second chance at a senior season.
“It’s really been a blessing,” Law said. “I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to play summer ball back East and gain that experience. I’m excited to apply that experience and knowledge next spring.”