E L E V E N

In Blog, Hustle Podcastby Eric ByrnesLeave a Comment

Was at a Stanford/UCLA basketball game back in the day when I ran into family friends Vince Sakowski and Mark Daschbach. They had their little groms with them and I snapped a few pics, one of which was with Mark’s kid Andrew…

Fast forward a good 10+ years and little Andrew was now the starting first baseman for the Stanford baseball team and I was in the broadcast booth calling the game for the Pac 12 Network. 

Ironically, Andrew happened to hit an absolute TANK and made one of the most ridiculous plays that I have ever seen – A dude from Washington State hit a pop up down the first base line, and when Andrew came in to catch the ball, he collided with the runner and his glove fell off… Instead of giving up on the play, Andrew kept focused on the ball and caught that shit barehanded. 😳

The play was the number one play of the week across several sports networks… 

Andrew didn’t play much as a Freshman but finished his Sophomore year with a .937 OPS and 17 homers. This season, he exceeded his home run total and had well over a 1.000 OPS which is F*ING ridiculous… 

A 3 sport STAR in high school at Sacred Heart Prep, it’s easy to see Andrew really start to figure out this baseball thing the more he plays and just focuses on one sport… 

And oh yea, he also hit 4 homers in a night game at Sunken Diamond, where the ball is notorious for not traveling. 4 homers is an amazing feat in any game, at any level, but add in the fact that it was done against 4 different top level D1 pitchers at a ballpark that doesn’t give up a ton of homers (and 2 of them were Oppo Taco’s)… and it’s safe to say a F*CKING AMAZING deserves to be used to quantify the AMAZINGNESS of the accomplishment. 

Heading into the draft, Andrew was a bit of a question mark. He is incredibly athletic but plays first base so his athleticism isn’t necessarily always highlighted. At 6’3 225, it would be easy to classify him as a lumbering first baseman, but he is far from it as evident by his 6.7 second 60-yard-dash speed… His plate discipline isn’t perfect but he has increased his walks and decreased his strikeouts over the past 2 years and has shown great improvements… 

I thought there was a very good chance of seeing Andrew chosen in the first 2 rounds of the draft… Yet for whatever reason, the first 2 rounds happened and he wasn’t chosen. Then rounds 3-10 happened on day 2; still no Andrew… Finally, on the third day of the draft, Andrew was selected in the 11th round by the Baltimore Orioles… 

Once he was selected, this is what I texted him: 

“Yo dude it’s Byrnes… First of all congrats on the 4 homer game and the Super Regionals… Also congrats on getting drafted… That said, the draft doesn’t mean shit and these so called experts think they have an idea of who is going to be a big leaguer and the reality of the situation is that they don’t know jack f*cking shit… I’ve seen enough to know that you have 1st round talent and if you continue to work your ass off and develop as a baseball player and a person you will play in the big leagues for a long time… Have fun this weekend & enjoy the ride… Hit me up if u ever need anything & if u want any advice when it comes to figuring out whether or not you want to sign… Each individual situation is unique and there are a lot of factors to consider but as of now fuck it and go get the boys to the CWS. 👊” 

This was Andrew’s response… 

“Thanks Byrnesy! You don’t know how much that means. I read your book so I know you had a weird draft experience as well. This just added to the chip on my shoulder even more. As Esky said, “You know what number you’ll be wearing? 11.” 

Gosh damn I F*ING LOVE THAT… Dave Esquer, the head Stanford baseball coach, was a mentor of mine and his suggestion of Andrew wearing number 11 on his back is absolute GOLD… 

“11” obviously represents the round that Andrew was drafted in but its meaning goes way deeper… It’s a constant reminder that things are not always in our control. We can do everything we have to do individually, but it is still possible to get overlooked… “11” will serve as the constant reminder that there were 317 draft picks ahead of Andrew that pro scouts thought would be better baseball players… “11” will represent the chip on the shoulder that Andrew referenced, and that’s the chip that will continue to drive him through the inevitable ups and downs of professional baseball… “11” will represent a supreme confidence in his work ethic and his own ability, but “11” also represents a humility in knowing that life ain’t always ferry tales and unicorns. 

As much as the sport of baseball and life give us, and they give A LOT, “11” represents that it can be ripped from us at any moment. Ultimately, on a grander scale, “11” represents the under appreciated mother f*king GO HARDS that constantly get overlooked yet stay committed to the process of KICKING ASS and taking 317 names… 

Look, I can’t guarantee that Andrew will ever play a day in the big leagues, but I will guarantee that so long as he maintains the right attitude and the right effort while educating himself through his experiences, he is going to make the number ELEVEN proud. 👊

-EB