April 23, 2004
Danny Putnam has always loved playing baseball. Ever since he can remember, Putnam has played baseball.
'I've always loved playing ball. My earliest memories are of hitting a T-Ball. (My family) has home movies of that,' Putnam said. 'I played baseball all the time growing up.'
Putnam has always played well too. Named a First Team Preseason All-American in 2004 by Baseball America, the expectations for Putnam entering his junior season were high. Putnam, currently hitting .353 with 10 HR and 36 RBI, has been fulfilling those high expectations. He is also the reigning Pac-10 Player of the Week after hitting .500 with three homers and 10 RBI in four Cardinal wins last week.
In 2003, Putnam was an All-Pac-10 selection after having a monster season, hitting .348 with 16 HR and 66 RBI. After his sophomore season, Putnam joined Team USA, where he hit .321 with two home runs and 22 RBI.
'Playing for Team USA was a phenomenal experience. There is no bigger honor than to play for my country. If baseball didn't work out, then I'd serve my country in the military. It was an honor to grab onto a bigger playing thing than just myself,' Putnam said.
Just as he values playing for Team USA, Putnam is one to appreciate opportunities that come his way. He sees the experience of playing baseball at Stanford as another opportunity.
'I set a goal in high school to achieve the highest level academically and athletically,' Putnam explained. 'Stanford is the best program to achieve the best in both areas.'
Like many college baseball players, Putnam would like the opportunity to play in the Major Leagues one day.
'My goal has always been to be an impact player in the big leagues,' Putnam said. 'I'd like to win the World Series. I enjoy college, and I'd like to move on.'
Putnam's favorite memory of playing at Stanford occurred last year during the College World Series bracket final against Cal State Fullerton. With the game tied 5-5 in the tenth inning, Putnam came up to bat with a man on. He blasted a game winning two-run home run to help Stanford move on in the College World Series.
'It was exciting,' Putnam said. 'To help the team get there was rewarding.'
The game-winning home run is one of Putnam's many individual achievements over his career at Stanford. Putnam appreciates the team achievements he has been a part of as well. He sees his responsibility as a team leader and accepts this responsibility with sincerity.
'We are off to the best start since Coach Marquess has been here. We've had a lot of good teams but this team is special,' Putnam said. 'I'm a leader this year, so I'm more responsible for the team's success. (Success) means I'm playing well and helping lead the team. Our team is interested in the team, not the individual. There is unbelievable team chemistry. Every year it has gotten better.'
'It's nice to be able to lose yourself in a winning team with some great friends and some great players,' Putnam added. 'Being on a winning team is great because then you can just think about the team and not the pressure.'
Putnam knows how much his time at Stanford has helped him grow on an individual level as well.
'I've learned how to balance a lot of different things in life at the same time,' continued Putnam. 'It's a challenge here. I've had to learn how to have balance in my life. I enjoy every situation, and I take challenge as an opportunity.'
Putnam had some help from his family learning this balance. His great-grandmother, Mary Sutton Bundy, won the U.S. Open in 1904, and Wimbledon in 1905 and 1907. His grandmother, Dorothy Cheney, won the Australian Open in 1938. His mother, Christine Putnam, played tennis for UC Irvine.
'I learned from a young age how to compete and to have a healthy attitude towards competing and doing my best,' Putnam explained. 'I've come to see things as an opportunity or a challenge instead of an obstacle. I know when to compete and when to enjoy things. I've learned a good, healthy balance. I know to enjoy competition but not to let it consume me.'
Putnam's family has influenced him in many other ways also. He credits his parents, Richard and Christine, for being so devoted to him.
'It's nice to have a mom and dad who both understand sports and who are so dedicated to me. Both my parents always said from T-Ball on that they love me no matter what. They just want me to go out and have fun and play the game,' Putnam said.
Putnam adds, 'My parents have come to every series. They have been very supportive of me. They are always here for me and they want to see me play.'
Putnam has had many people that have helped him develop his skills as well as his appreciation of the game. Putnam's father, Richard, along with Fred Lassen coached him in Little League.
'They taught me a good approach to the game,' Putnam commented.
Putnam's high school coaches, Sam and Dana Blalock (father and uncle to Texas Rangers third baseman Hank Blalock), coached Putnam at Rancho Bernardo High School.
'I have a great relationship with both of them. I'd let them coach a team of mine any day,' Putnam said.
Putnam also credits his physical therapist, John Iams, for helping him develop his excellent mental approach to the game.
The mental side of the game is very important to Putnam. He credits his ability to play so well with the balance he has instilled in his life. In his spare time, Putnam enjoys a trip to the beach or playing his guitar.
Putnam is also involved in Cardinal Life, a Christian student-athlete organization at Stanford and a chapter of Athletes in Action.
'One of the most enjoyable things at Stanford is Cardinal Life,' Putnam explained. 'It helps people with their perspective on life. My relationship with God has taught me how to live life the right way - with integrity. It's helped me to succeed because it's shown me to just let go and let things happen.'
Putnam certainly seems to have found the perfect balance. This may just be his own special recipe for success.
'Baseball is part of my life but not my whole life,' Putnam concluded. 'I want baseball to be a part of my life, but I want to have other things be a part of my life too. Balance is important.'
by Janelle Kwietkauski