Baseball: David O'Hagan
by Kyle McRae
From the time he was young, David O'Hagan wanted to get the best education he could and play athletics at the highest level possible in college. A three-sport standout with an excellent academic record as a prep at Breck High School near Minneapolis, O'Hagan got that wish when he arrived at Stanford in the fall of 2000.
Despite his enormous success as a prep baseball player that included a combined 19-2 record, an 0.63 ERA, 266 strikeouts in 131.0 innings and four no-hitters over his final two seasons, the self-described 'undersized righthander' had to start on the bottom of the barrel when he arrived on The Farm in the fall of 2000.
'I was given some advice by a teammate in my freshman year that 'baseball at Stanford would be whatever I made out of it',' recalled O'Hagan. 'I took those words to heart. I knew that I would have to go that extra mile day-in and day-out. I didn't want to do just what every one else was doing.'
O'Hagan decided that good old fashion extra hard work would be his answer. He lifted weights on his own, stayed for extra bullpen work after practice, and bugged pitching coach Tom Kunis for extra advice and help.
'I think I was kind of a nuisance to (pitching) coach (Tom) Kunis for a while, but I stayed with it because I really wanted to improve,' laughed O'Hagan. 'The best thing for me about Stanford Baseball in my freshman year was that I knew I would have an opportunity to pitch in some fashion just about every week.'
For O'Hagan, none of those opportunities actually came in games. Still, he was happy with the repeated opportunities he was getting to pitch in scrimmage situations during practice and took those opportunities to live up to his motto.
'I just wanted to try my best get better every day,' said O'Hagan.
And he did.
After a season's worth of intrasquad games as a freshman, O'Hagan finally showed off some of his stuff on the field in the summer of 2001, posting a 2.76 ERA in 49.0 innings for the Hawaii-Island Movers coached by current Cardinal assistant coach Dave Nakama.
In 2002, O'Hagan finally got his chance for the Cardinal, making nine appearances and pitching 12.1 innings.
'My Stanford Baseball career has been a series of stages,' said O'Hagan. 'At first, I was excited to put on a uniform, then I really wanted to play and contribute, now that I've gotten the chance to play, I want to play well and be a more vital part of the team.'
'The whole approach of this program is to give guys opportunities,' said O'Hagan. 'Getting a chance to pitch just about every week in my freshman season really helped me get to where I am today.'
Today, O'Hagan is a mainstay in the middle of the Cardinal bullpen. He co-leads the team with 12 appearances and has posted a 4-1 record with a pair of saves, picking up wins in three of his last four outings. He has even turned himself into a strikeout pitcher with 33 strikeouts in 24.2 innings for a team-high 12.04 strikeouts per nine inning average, thanks primarily to a big curve ball and a sneaky fastball.
'My day-to-day approach has not changed since my freshman year,' emphasized O'Hagan. 'I couldn't see myself not doing everything I could to get better, because I don't want to be in a position where I look back and say that if I had done things differently then look what could have happened. You only have a limited time to play athletics. I would like to get most out of the time that I have so that I can look back and not have any regrets.'
'I want to do everything I can to help this team win,' emphasized O'Hagan. 'Every year it seems that we have a great chance to make it to Omaha, and I want to help this team get there. This program prides itself on winning baseball games and the coaching staff is going to do everything it can to win games. Hopefully, we've got the right mix of guys to take it all the way there.'
'Stepping on the hill in Omaha would be everything I dreamed of growing up,' dreamed O'Hagan, 'Now, that would be unbelievable.'
It may not be nearly as unbelievable as he may of thought and if the Cardinal makes it back to the promised land of college baseball this June, O'Hagan should be a big part of it.