May 20, 2005
Make sure to pay attention to the Sunken Diamond public address announcer a few minutes before today's first pitch when Stanford Baseball honors Cameron Matthews, the lone member of its 2005 senior class. There won't be a lengthy script about his accomplishments on the field but there is quite a story to this day. In fact, the scripts just don't get written much better than this one.
It's a day many people thought would never happen nearly four years ago when Matthews, a local product from Mountain View and Los Altos High School, had to do everything he could just to convince Stanford's coaching staff to take a look at him in a 'tryout' that lasted about 30 to 45 minutes.
Matthews wasn't able to impress the coaching staff enough during his brief look to earn a spot on the roster, but he did take a position as a student manager with the club, which meant doing just about everything to support the team without getting an opportunity to play.
Still, Matthews wouldn't let his dream of becoming a Stanford Baseball player die or the final chapter of his story be simply gathering baseballs in a bucket during batting practice.
After his freshman season, he spent the summer playing baseball with the Northwest Titans in Portland. When he came back to Stanford for his second year on The Farm, he wanted another chance to become a player for the Cardinal but was once again relegated to team manager.
But Matthews continued to persevere and played summer baseball with three different teams after his sophomore year of college.
He finally got another tryout during the fall practice sessions of his junior year and this time he realized his dream.
'Just to put on the Stanford uniform as a player was a dream come true for me,' recalls Matthews.
It wasn't long until the coaching staff also realized his value on the base paths and less than a month into the season, he was inserted into a crucial game against Texas as a pinch-runner.
He's seen a lot more action since then, playing in 19 games and contributing five runs as well as a pair of stolen bases. He even got his first career start last month against San Jose State when he filled in for an ill Jim Rapoport in center field.
Although what may have seemed like a crazy dream to some has become his reality, Matthews believed he could do it all along.
'I've got to say that I have always had the confidence that I could make this happen,' he states. 'It's just really satisfying that the coaches now also have that confidence in me to know that I can do something to help the team win.'
He did exactly that when he had the thrill of scoring the game-winning run earlier this season after entering a March 6 contest against California as a ninth inning pinch-runner and being squeezed home by Rapoport.
He's even gotten a bit tired of the 'Rudy' comparisons that liken his story to that of the former Notre Dame football player who worked his way up through the scout team to play in the final moments of his last collegiate game and had a popular 1993 movie made about his story.
'Honestly, I do get a little tired of all those,' he says. 'I know that it's a compliment, and I appreciate everyone acknowledging what I had to go to. But, I don't want to be judged on having just made the roster but on actually helping the team win.'
When he's being honored on the field before today's game, he says that's exactly what he will be thinking about rather than his own moment in the spotlight.
'This game is a must win for us,' he explains. 'I'm not worried about anything but winning this game. I just want to do anything I can to help.'
Matthews hopes that if the Cardinal can keep winning at the end of the season that his ultimate baseball dream can come true.
'I want to go back to Omaha and avenge the losses we had in my freshman and sophomore years,' he says about a time when he was still the team's manager. 'To win the final game in Omaha and participate in some way in that victory would make every dream that I have come true.'
Move over Rudy -- that would be every moviemaker's perfect script.
By Kyle McRae