Florida Marlins catcher and Cal Alum John Baker penned another piece for Yahoo Sports. In his latest article, he reflects on the lessons he learned under David Esquer's tutelage and gives thanks for the opportunity afforded to him by Coach Esquer.
In 2001, we hadn't won a conference series against rival Stanford — using "rival" loosely — since 1993. But after taking the opening game, we came back to Evans Diamond for the second of a three-game set. Jason Dennis pitched a brilliant shutout, and we topped the Cardinal 4-0. For the first time in eight seasons, our team took a series from Stanford, a perennial national power.
In the first two games I went a combined 0 for 8. It definitely wasn't one of my best performances, but it didn't matter at all to me, because as the team gathered down the right-field line, I was having an epiphany. While it is fantastic to experience individual success, it is even better to accomplish something as a team.
The series win over Stanford nearly guaranteed us a spot at NCAA regionals, and in my view signaled the true arrival of Dave Esquer as a head coach.
And, because of how I had been coached at Cal, I truly cared more about the win than my stats. It was the best day/accolade/achievement of my college career. Winning that series was better than winning the conference batting title the next year, or being named first-team all-league. It was better than getting drafted by the majors, and it stirs the same sort of emotions from when I got called up to the big leagues. I have Dave Esquer to thank for that.
Cal players aren't concerned with their numbers, or if the scorekeeper gave them a hit or an error on the previous play. They look only at the bottom line, the final score. I know, because I played for Dave Esquer, the reigning National College Baseball Coach of the Year, and he wouldn't have it any other way.
After the jump Esquer and the Bears are honored at last night's A's game and Ted Miller puts together a team of the best Pac-10 players of all time.
- Ted Miller rates the Pac-12 receivers and says Cal is in "good shape." Cal likely would have been in great shape if the Bears had a proven QB.
- Alex Mack, Tony Gonzalez, and Nick Harris earned spots on Uncle Ted's All-Pac-10, All-Time team.
- New head coach Ginger Miles was named the Division III West Coach of the Year following a 16-3 season and second-round NCAA tournament appearance with Claremont.
- Betsy Hassett played the full 90 minutes of New Zealand's 2-1 loss to Japan and Alex Morgan came off the bench in the 75th minute in the US team's 2-0 victory over Korea DPR.
- Diane Ninemire and her assistants were named the Pacific Region Staff of the Year after a 43-13 season featuring a WCWS appearance.
- David Esquer and his team were honored at last night's A's game. Esquer threw out the ceremonial first pitch.