Stanford's Yount Follows Family's Baseball Path
Feb. 14, 2006
Stanford, Calif. (AP) - Austin Yount remembers the plane rides, the trips to all the ballparks - and his uncle's quest for a baseball milestone.
It was 1992, and the 5-year-old Yount was along for the journey as uncle Robin Yount, the Milwaukee Brewers' two-time MVP, went after his 3,000th career hit. On Aug. 9 of that year, Austin Yount and his family were among the 47,589 in the crowd in Milwaukee who saw a piece of baseball history.
'I do remember being there,' said Austin, now a freshman infielder and pitcher at Stanford. 'I remember when he hit it. All those players seemed like normal guys.'
Austin Yount is now following the family's career path. But he's also realistic, having grown up with the game. His father, Larry, was a former pitcher in the Houston organization, but never made it to the majors. His cousin (and Robin's son), Dustin, is currently in the Baltimore Orioles' system.
'My uncle had a great career, my dad almost got there and my cousin is trying to get there,' Yount said. 'I know it's extremely difficult, and getting an education is important.'
Yount made an immediate impression in Stanford's three-game home sweep of nationally ranked Cal State Fullerton, the 2004 national champions, to open the season two weekends ago. He started and played third base the first two games and hit a double, triple and homer and drove in four runs. In the series finale, Yount came out of the bullpen and earned the victory.
'It's definitely very exciting and something I'll always remember,' he said. 'But it was just one series and winning it was huge for the team.'
Yount doubled and drove in three runs last Sunday to help Stanford avoid a three-game sweep against Kansas. For the season, he is 4-for-14 with a homer and seven RBIs, to go along with his win in relief.
Yount said his comfort level comes from the older players making the freshmen feel welcome.
'I can't say enough about the leaders we have on the team, like (senior catcher John) Hester,' he said. 'They made us feel like we belonged. But you always know you're the young guy.'
Yount grew up in Scottsdale, Ariz., the San Francisco Giants' spring training home. He was a prep All-American at Chapparral High, a 10-minute drive from Scottsdale Stadium. He hit over .475 in his last two years in high school and drove in 83 runs. As a pitcher, he was 16-2 with an ERA just under 1.00. He holds school records for lowest single-season ERA (0.50 in 2004) and most RBIs in a game (10 in 2005).
'I'm just fortunate to live in a place where the weather is nice and makes it possible to play year-round,' Yount said. 'Most nights at the dinner table some aspect of baseball would be discussed or stories told.'
Yount always looked forward to the days he and his father and younger brother were joined by his uncle and cousin and the group would hit together. The most important lessons, he said, came away from the field.
'Along the way, they stressed the mental side of the game,' Yount said. 'You just have to play your own game. You have it keep it fun, otherwise it will eat you up.'
Yount rarely gets a break during practice and he's not complaining. When he's not with the infielders, he's out throwing a bullpen session. After two scoreless innings against the Titans, he's likely to get plenty of chances to pitch.
'It's a little more difficult, but I throw every day whenever it's easiest in practice,' he said. 'We'll see how it goes. I'll do whatever.'
Stanford hosts defending national champions Texas for a three-game series beginning Friday.