Hard Work Pays Off For Oregon's Marder
By Haley Hirai
Jack Marder's world has revolved around baseball since he was two years old. As the batboy for his older sister's Little League team, Jack played right field for the last few innings of every game. Marder joined his first team when he was three, and the rest is history.
He taped rocks to the bottom of his tennis shoes to recreate the sound of metal spikes on concrete. He stuffed rolls of tape and batting gloves in his back pocket to copy the major leaguers he saw on TV. Marder has been preparing to make it to The Show his whole life, and he just might do it.
"Since I started playing, all I cared about was baseball. I can't stand not being the best at anything, even at school," said Marder, the Oregon's sophomore catcher from Calabasas, Calif. Drafted out of high school in 2009 by the Arizona Diamondbacks, Marder said he chose to play at Oregon because he thought it would give him the best long-term opportunity to play professional baseball.
Fans watching the old-school Marder dive around on the field would never realize that he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in eighth grade. Diabetes doesn't define Marder, nor does it affect his style of play and positive attitude.
"It truthfully is only a minor inconvenience if you take care of yourself. All it means is that I have to regularly monitor my blood sugar and check it every couple innings so I can perform my best and be just like everyone else," he said.
After Marder's successful freshman year at first base and right field, two positions he had never regularly played before college, head coach George Horton asked him to make the switch to starting catcher. Growing up a middle infielder, Marder was initially unsure if the request was serious, but started intensive training once he knew it was.
"If the coach thinks it's best for the team first and me second, then I'm all for it. My favorite position is the one that gets me on the field," said Marder.
His head coach knew he'd be up for the challenge.
"Because of Jack's instincts and defensive tools, we call him 'Bugs Bunny' because he can play anywhere on the field," said Horton, referring to the popular cartoon of Bugs Bunny playing every position on the baseball diamond.
Marder attributes his versatility to playing everywhere when he was younger, and studying athletes he admires. Modeling his style of play after Craig Biggio, Marder plays as hard as he can, sliding, diving, or getting hit by pitches, because he doesn't want to regret anything at the end of the day.
"I love diving head first and playing in-your-face type of ball, and knowing that you play a brand that is respected by all generations of the game. I'm motivated by the difficulties of the game and I strive to be perfect in all facets of the game," said Marder. "I love that it's hard and truthfully relates directly to life. Hard work pays off. The game rewards guys who play the hardest with the best attitudes."
Baseball even follows Marder home in the form of his teammates Scott McGough, Tyler Anderson, and Porter Clayton. Marder is the cook of their household, mostly because he wants to get out of dish duty.
"Jack is one of the messiest chefs I've ever seen, but his Hawaiian chicken is the most delicious I have ever tasted," said McGough.
With his major currently undeclared, Marder jokes he is majoring in baseball and minoring in history.
"I plan on being a part of the game as long as I can, playing as long as possible and then becoming a coach like Coach Horton," he said.
Marder doesn't have to tape rocks to his shoes anymore, he has the real spikes.