Baseball: Chris O'Riordan
May 12, 2002
Chris O'Riordan is getting ready to prove himself all over again. O'Riordan hopes that when he ventures into the world of professional baseball following the end of his collegiate career in June, that things will work out as well for him as they have at Stanford.
It doesn't seem like O'Riordan should need to prove himself in the baseball world after all that he's accomplished on The Farm, developing into one of the best players ever in a program that has sent 57 players into major league baseball.
But, the Chris O'Riordan story is truly one of Cinderella proportions.
Nearly four years ago, O'Riordan began his Stanford career as an undersized walk-on just hoping to be a 'contributor' but now is getting ready to complete it as one of the top hitters in school history. O'Riordan currently ranks tied for fifth on Stanford's all-time batting average list with a .356 lifetime mark and still has an opportunity to make a run at the 49-year-old record of .362 held by Jack Shepard (1951-53), as well as the .364 career batting average currently held by sophomore teammate Sam Fuld. O'Riordan has also started 159 consecutive games at second base.
He didn't always see the field so often. O'Riordan's big accomplishment as a freshman was making the team. He managed to get into two games as a defensive replacement but was not sent to the plate even once by head coach Mark Marquess.
However, there was one trip to the plate in his freshman year that made a big difference. The big moment came in an intrasquad game when O'Riordan stepped to the plate and hit a home run off teammate and All-American pitcher Jason Young, a future second round draft pick of the Colorado Rockies.
'That's when I really realized that I could play at this level, and it gave me a boost of confidence,' recalled O'Riordan. 'From then on, it was all about getting a chance to play and show what I could do.'
When O'Riordan got that chance his sophomore year, he didn't let it slip by. In fact, he burst onto the scene in dramatic fashion when he homered for his first collegiate hit in the 10th inning of an 8-6 win at Florida State. By the time the season was over, he was more than an everyday starter. O'Riordan ended up leading the club with a .366 batting average, earned honorable mention All-Pac-10 honors and won the team's Most Improved Player award.
The story got even better in his junior season when he earned First Team All-American and All-Pac-10 honors, and was named the team's Most Valuable Player after leading or co-leading the club in 16 offensive categories. O'Riordan's power numbers went way up as he led the team in both homers (12) and RBI (68), while contributing a .359 batting average. His 101 hits also led the team and ranked fifth on Stanford's all-time single season list.
After two successful years, O'Riordan found himself in unfamiliar territory at the beginning of his senior season ... as a Preseason All-American with high expectations and more pressure to be successful.
O'Riordan began the season with a .362 career batting average, tied for the top spot on Stanford's all-time list, but started the season slowly and 15 games into his final year on The Farm found himself hitting just .274.
'I wasn't handling the slump well,' remembered O'Riordan. 'I had to take a look in the mirror. When I started coming out of it was when I stopped pouting, started working harder and realized that the world wasn't against me. I learned that the key to being consistent is to keep an even keel.'
Consistency has been one of O'Riordan's trademarks throughout his stay at Stanford. Even with his rough start, he has hit safely in 41 of 48 games this season, posted three hit streaks of 10 games or better and reached base in each of his first 38 games. He has also kept his batting average above .300 ever since going 3-for-4 against Cal Poly in his 16th game of the campaign to break out of his early-season slump.
O'Riordan is currently hitting .340 through 48 games, while contributing seven homers and 37 RBI.
Despite all his collegiate success, O'Riordan thinks he may soon find himself in nearly the same boat in the professional baseball world that he did when he walked onto the Stanford campus nearly four years ago.
'I may be a little bit above that, but I think it will be pretty similar,' explained O'Riordan. 'I'm going to be proving myself every day and that's fine. For a guy my size, they are going to look twice at you, but what's really going to help me is that I've blossomed as a hitter at Stanford. I'm going to have to hit play professional baseball and that's what I like doing the most, so I'm looking forward to the challenge.'
'It's been a crazy ride (at Stanford),' added O'Riordan. 'I've gained a whole new level of confidence in my baseball game to where I hope it can carry me to the professional level.'
Watch out world, here he comes. Get ready for another crazy ride.
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