Baseball: Danny Putnam
April 16, 2002
If he could, Danny Putnam might major in baseball. And, why not? Stanford boasts one of the most respected and accomplished programs in the country and head coach Mark Marquess has earned countless awards during his 26-year tenure. So, a degree in baseball shouldn't sound so far-fetched.
But the blend between athletics and academics doesn't go quite that far at Stanford, so, while Putnam's studies won't be formal, the freshman hopes that what he learns at Stanford on and off the field will guide him to his ultimate goal.
'My dream ever since I've been playing baseball has been to be a good player in the Big Leagues and that hasn't changed even though I am in school,' said Putnam. 'I have been pleasantly surprised by my academic success, but succeeding in baseball is still my goal.'
The San Diego native was a superstar in high school. As a senior in 2001, he earned First Team All-American honors and was named the USA Today California High School Player of the Year. Putnam hit .500 with 19 homers, 48 RBI, 19 stolen bases, and a 1.161 slugging percentage as a senior.
After four prep seasons, he broke the career home run (33) and RBI (113) records at Rancho Bernardo High School, while ranking No. 2 all-time at the school with 164 hits and finishing his prep career with a .407 batting average. Putnam's balance of athletic excellence and academics also started in high school as he was a four-year member of the San Diego All-Academic team.
Putnam has made many adjustments during his freshman year, one of the largest being the transition from Southern to Northern California, but he optimistically notes that the springtime weather and baseball have eased the change.
'It's nice that the sun has started to come out, I really like that,' said the 5-10 outfielder, who lists skimboarding, surfing, and guitar playing as his hobbies. 'I am a pretty easy-going and fun-loving guy, and it's a little different here. It's nicer now that the sun is coming out and people are a little more friendly, it changes everyone's mood a little bit.'
While he may have reservations about the Northern Californian attitude, he has wasted no time transitioning to collegiate baseball and made a huge impact in a pair of Stanford wins last week. Last Tuesday, Putnam had a game-winning pinch-hit double with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning against San Jose State to lift the Cardinal to a 5-4 comeback victory. In a 6-5 win over USC three days later, Putnam launched a solo shot in the second inning to notch his first collegiate home run before starting the game-winning rally in the bottom of the 10th inning when he reached base on an error.
'I have to have the confidence and everyone has to have the confidence in themselves that when you go into the game, not only do you deserve to be there but you are also going play well and that your talent will allow you to help the team. Without that confidence, you are going to limit your chances out there.'
Putnam has taken advantage of every chance and after collecting four of his 10 hits this season in the recent USC series, he is looking to become a fixture in the every day starting lineup.
'The nicest thing about this year is that the hard work and perseverance is starting to pay off,' said Putnam, who truly is a student of the game. 'The most fun thing is just coming out and playing the game because I'm not as excited about getting an 'A' on a test as I am about getting a couple of hits in a game.'
by Amanda Canevaro