Vol. LXIII, No. 30
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
(Photo by Stephen Goldsmith)
TRIBAL MISSION: Dan DeGeorge strokes the ball in action this past spring in his senior season with the Princeton University baseball team. Last month, DeGeorge signed a minor league contract with the Cleveland Indians organization. He is currently playing for the clubs Arizona Rookie League affiliate in Goodyear, Ariz.
Like many newly-minted college graduates, Dan DeGeorge struggled to find suitable employment this summer as he headed into the real world.
Looking to secure a spot in professional baseball, Princeton University All-Ivy performer DeGeorge reached out to several teams but had no bites as graduation and the Major League Draft came and went in early June.
Weeks later, as DeGeorge cooked a burger at home in Annandale, N.J. and lamented his situation, the phone rang and things started looking up.
Mike Chernoff of the Cleveland Indians called me, said DeGeorge. I was really excited.
DeGeorge quickly signed a minor league contract with the Indians and was shipped to the Goodyear Indians in the Arizona Rookie League.
For DeGeorge, taking the field in pro ball is the culmination of a long process.
In the first three years, I didnt put things together, said DeGeorge, reflecting on his Princeton career. I really love baseball and I worked really hard for my senior year.
DeGeorges hard work paid off as the second baseman produced a superb final campaign, leading Princeton in hitting (.349), hits (53), extra base hits (16) and runs scored (26).
He won the programs William J. Clarke Award, which is given to the player who demonstrates the greatest proficiency in hitting, fielding and outstanding plays. In winning the Clarke Award, he followed in the footsteps of his father, Joe, a Tiger baseball star who earned the honor in 1979.
Despite those achievements, the 510, 180-pounder had trouble getting the attention of major league teams.
I was talking to a lot of teams before the draft, I knocked on every door that I could, said DeGeorge, who ended his Princeton career as the programs all-time leader in at-bats and and ranks third in school history in runs (129) and fourth in hits (194) and triples (9).
It looked like I wasnt going to be drafted but a couple of teams said they would sign me if they needed middle infielders.
Now DeGeorge is trying to show the Indians that they need to keep him around the organization for a while.
The team plays a 48-50 game schedule in which the players compete four days in a row and then rest on the fifth day. DeGeorge arrives at the park at 1:00 p.m. for the 7:00 p.m. games, taking part in hitting off tees, soft toss, meetings and drills as the players prepare for the nightly action.
The level of ball is definitely better than in the Ivy League, the players are more consistently better, said DeGeorge.
I need to be more consistent. I need to have the same approach to every pitch and each game. I need to show the organization that I can play.
In dealing with his daily grind, DeGeorge is applying one of the key lessons he picked up during his Princeton years.
One of the biggest things you learn at Princeton is time management, said DeGeorge. You have to balance classes, lifting, and practice. It is a big thing here.
As DeGeorge makes his pro debut, he is having the time of his life. I am loving every moment of it, asserted DeGeorge, who is rooming with three teammates, one from Louisiana, one from Taiwan and the third from Venezuela.
As long as I keep moving up, I am going to keep playing. I would take a cot and sleep at the ballpark if I could.
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