Stanford Spotlight - Ryan Garko
April 25, 2001
Ryan Garko has always enjoyed the game of baseball. Stanford's sophomore catcher is one of those rare players that has an attitude that is equal parts hard-working, enthusiastic and joyful. Garko claims that his attitude is a simple by-product of his true love of the game of baseball.
'Once the season starts, baseball is pretty much all I do, and I like that,' said Garko, who denies that the daily wear and tear of the game ever effects him. 'I like going to practice every day, coming out early and staying late.'
'In the eighth grade, I started hitting just about every day of the year except Christmas,' continued Garko. 'I really like to hit. I would hit all day if I could. I enjoyed it then, and I've enjoyed it ever since then. I just like being around the game and swinging the bat a lot. If I don't swing the bat a lot, at least six times a week, I don't feel like I'm doing the right things to stay prepared.'
Garko's hard work ethic and positive attitude have paid off in 2001. After seeing limited action as a backup to senior starter Damien Alvarado in 2000 and splitting time with Ken Tirpack early in the 2001 season, Garko has emerged as the club's starter behind the plate. He has started 15 consecutive games at catcher and is leading the team with a .420 batting average over the span. He has also added five doubles, three homers and 15 RBI. For the season, Garko is second on the team with a .343 batting average while contributing three homers and 20 RBI.
Garko credits his father, Michael, for instilling him with a work ethic that has always paid off.
'He always said that a good work ethic would help you achieve success, and I bought into that,' said Garko. 'I don't want to ever look back on my career and say that I should have worked harder. That's something I would regret for the rest of my life.'
Despite his hard work ethic, there is probably no player on the Stanford team that you will see smiling, laughing or even joking around more often than Garko.
'I definitely enjoy the game, and I have fun with it,' Garko emphasizes. 'When it comes down to it, I definitely think that I put in the time and the effort, but I just enjoy it. If it wasn't fun, I wouldn't want to do it.'
A player like Garko may seem like an unlikely fit for a serious skipper like Stanford head coach Mark Marquess. The reality couldn't be further from the truth.
'Coach Marquess was a big part of my decision to come to Stanford,' stated Garko. 'He's had such a good program and is an excellent coach. I thought that playing for him would really be a good decision for me.'
'We get along really well, and I enjoy playing for him,' continued Garko with a grin. 'He makes you work hard, and I've learned to play the game the right way -- to always hustle and to play for the team.'
Garko admits that Marquess gives him a hard time on occasion.
'Coach says that I talk too much,' laughed Garko. 'He's all over me about always talking.'
Garko's talking earned him the nickname 'Budding Superstar'. Following a midweek game, Garko jokingly told KZSU broadcaster Chad Goldberg that he would like to be called 'Budding Superstar' on future broadcasts. When Garko began his current hot streak, Goldberg quickly obliged and the nickname became a hot commodity on a couple of KZSU broadcasts. Stanford Daily sportswriter Aaron Levine quickly caught on and led one of his stories describing the play of Stanford's self-proclaimed 'Budding Superstar' Ryan Garko. Even Oregon State broadcaster Mike Parker picked up on it during Stanford's sweep of the Beavers
'It was a funny thing,' said a sheepish Garko. 'I said it at a good time because I started to play well right after I said it.'
Garko may have to take the 'Budding' off his name if he keeps hitting at his current rate.
by Kyle McRae