Stanford Baseball Feature - Joey August
March 31, 2006
by Kyle McRae
Stanford leadoff hitter Joey August knows all about first impressions, especially after the one he's made in his first season on The Farm.
When he arrived on campus last fall, he smacked a home run in the team's annual Alumni Game the first time he wore a Cardinal uniform.
In his first start at Stanford against Cal State Fullerton in the opening series of the season, he walked in his first at bat (and got a hit in his next).
A week later versus Kansas, he was inserted into the leadoff spot for the first time ever and in his first at bat in the new role - you guessed it - he got a base hit. In fact, he had hits in each of his first three at bats and finished 3-for-4 with a double and a couple of runs scored.
August has now been the team's leadoff hitter in 13 of its last 16 games and looks like a natural at the top of the order, despite his claim to have not even once ever been in the leadoff spot prior to this season. He paces the club with 18 runs scored and ranks second with 12 walks, while posting a .450 on-base percentage and hitting .313 to rank third among the club's regulars.
He credits a lot of his success to Jim Rapoport - the player he replaced at the top of the Cardinal lineup and who now hits second behind August in the batting order.
'He's very been willing to share his thoughts on being a leadoff hitter,' explained August, who said the two often talk in the on-deck circle.
'There are several jobs that a leadoff hitter has,' continued August. 'Sure, it is his job to get on base for other people to drive in, but you also need to work counts and allow other players on your team to see what a pitcher might do. In the past, I have always just been a guy who hacks at the first pitch if it's there.'
August waited 14 pitches over four at bats but finally took a hack against tonight's USC starter Ian Kennedy on March 10 that must have made quite a first impression on the Trojan All-American when the ball landed over the right field wall, giving August his first collegiate homer and ending Kennedy's evening in a game the Cardinal held on to win, 7-6.
August also remembers one time he had to learn about first impressions the hard way, recalling a funny story about the first time he 'met' recent Stanford baseball player Jed Lowrie when the two played at rival high schools during their prep days in Salem, Oregon.
'I was playing left field in a JV game, and he hit a ball so far from the varsity field that it hit me in the leg,' laughed August. 'That was the first I had ever heard of him.'
It certainly wasn't the last.
In fact, August credits Stanford's First Team All-American and the Boston Red Sox's 2005 Compensation A draft choice for opening the door for a lot of young baseball players in Oregon.
'Jed's connection is huge for Oregon baseball,' said August. 'Not a ton of people looked up here, but when he got out and had success, people opened up their eyes and recognized some of the players in Oregon.'
August didn't actually get his first impression of Oregon baseball until his freshman year in high school when the Fremont native's family moved from the Bay Area to Salem after his father Bill - a former quarterback with Chabot College, BYU and the San Francisco 49ers - took a football coaching job with nearby Willamette University.
'You have to be mentally tough to play baseball anywhere, but especially in Oregon,' explained August when asked about the often challenging weather conditions of the Northwest. 'One time, it took us four days to get a game in.'
August hopes the Cardinal will get all three games in when he returns to Oregon for his first collegiate action in his adopted home state April 13-15 as the Cardinal treks to Corvallis to play Oregon State in a three-game.
'It's going to be a blast,' smiled August. 'Tons of people I know are going to be there.'
If any of them haven't seen him play before, there's an awfully good chance he will make quite a first impression.
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