New Jersey-native Shawn James Sanford has compiled quite a resume in his young baseball career. He was a four-year letter winner at Cinnaminson High School in New Jersey, played for Team USA this past summer and is in the preseason watch list for the 2008 Brooks Wallace Player of The Year award.
This season, Sanford holds a 2.74 ERA and has five saves in 16 games.
Sanford is one of the cornerstones of a bullpen that has been consistently solid this year and is already one of the best pitchers in the Big East.
Sanford sat down with the Oracle after Saturday’s game against the Georgetown Hoyas to discuss how he fell in love with the game of baseball, what the team chemistry is like and what his plans for the future are, which he hopes will include pinstripes across his chest.
The Oracle: When did you start playing baseball?Shawn Sanford: I took up the sport when I was 5 years old in Cinnaminson, N.J. I was originally a shortstop when I was playing T-Ball. Then I started to get into pitching when I was 11. I started throwing curveballs by the time I was 13.
O: Did you play Little League Baseball?SS: Yes. I played in Cinnaminson when I was a kid, and at the same time I played Pee-Wee football, soccer, hockey, I wrestled and I played basketball. I did everything.
O: Wow. You seem to be a natural athlete.SS: Yeah, I would call myself one but my teammates don’t seem to agree with me.
O: How did playing other sports help you as an athlete? Did it translate to baseball?SS: Playing as a quarterback all the way from Pee-Wee football through high school provided me with toughness, which I need as a closer. I did Karate since I was 7 until I was 13. That gave me mental strength, which is key in a game like baseball, which takes a mental toll on you. You can blow a save one day and then come back again the next day. You need to have a short memory (as a closer).
O: What do you take out of your experience at Cinnaminson High School?SS: It was a great experience. I had good coaches and people who cared about me around me. We had sellouts at football games, when 4,000 to 5,000 fans would come. Everyone at the games would be one big family – the fans there would treat me like their own son. I lived in a small town, so people would come around the corner and honk to say hi to me and we would talk. If you surround yourself with good people, you are better off for it and it builds up your character.
O: How was the transition from a small town to Tampa?SS: Tampa is big, but I like it. Again, it’s all about the people you surround yourself with. I love Lazer (Collazzo, USF assistant coach), (Lelo) Prado (USF head coach), and Tino (Martinez, USF assistant coach) – they are great coaches. Whenever I have a question about baseball I can ask Tino and he will know the answer because he has been there before. He won four World Series (with the New York Yankees between 1996 and 2000). They expect the best out of us.
O: Who are your best friends on the team?SS: Matt Quevedo, Charles Cleveland and Matt Stull. I will forever be close with those guys and they will be at my wedding someday. I’m only a sophomore right now but I wouldn’t trade the experiences I have had here at USF for anything in the world.
O: Any plans on going pro?SS: That’s my dream. That is what I want to do in the future.
O: If you could choose a Major League team to play for, which one would it be?SS: I want to have a career like Tino’s, so the Yankees would be nice. I also grew up in the Philadelphia area, so the Phillies would be a dream come true as well.