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From Airport Little League to Stanford University:

Baseball Memories of Sacramento's Dean Stotz
    
by Rick Cabral, Editor

Stanford Dean Stotz

Stanford associate head baseball coach, Dean Stotz, considers himself the ultimate "Outlier." 

The term "outlier" was made famous in a 2008 book by Malcolm Gladwell, who wrote about how certain individuals find success not just on merit, but often by the benefit of circumstance. Stotz is one.  

As a 12-year-old at Airport Little League, Stotz was one of the stars of the 1966 team who won 11 straight games and found themselves at the Little League World Series in Williamsport. Although they didn't win it all, the memories had a lasting impression on this baseball lifer, who played at McClatchy High, Sacramento City College and eventually Stanford. 

"I was the true Outlier," Stotz remembers. He attributes his good fortune, in part, to the fact that Little League's cutoff date for age requirements is July 31. Stotz' birthday is August 1, which meant he was always one of the oldest and more developed ballplayers on his teams. "I could have never done at 11 what I did at 12. I was the oldest guy in Little League," he muses about his good fortune.  

Where some people horde their fortune, Stotz is one who has shared his, with hundreds of Stanford students who've looked to him for baseball wisdom. Beginning his 34th year as assistant to head baseball coach Mark Marquess, as the team's primary hitting instructor Dean Stotz has coached some of Major League Baseball's top players, including: Chicago White Sox MVP candidate Carlos Quentin, Mariners first baseman Ryan Garko and Cubs' outfielder Sam Fuld. When asked what separated these outstanding players from their teammates, Stotz theorizes "They all hit with a hitter's temperament. They believed nobody could to get them out." A trait that has served them well as big league players. 

 

 

Stanford Stotz

 

 





Stanford is one of the premier programs in the country, garnering two national title teams,
three national runner-up teams, 14 appearances at the College World Series in Omaha, six NCAA Super Regional triumphs, 15 NCAA Regional titles, and 12 conference crowns.

Overall the Cardinal has gone to 25 NCAA Regionals and won 1,356 games with Coach Marquess at the helm, and Sacramentan Dean Stotz at his side. Ten years ago he was promoted to associate head coach.

 

Photo: Third base coach Stotz advises a runner on the upcoming situation. Photo courtesy of Stanford Athletics.



In the late eighties (1987-88), Stanford teams won back-to-back national championships. From 2000-2003 they reached the final CWS game three times, only to lose each time to LSU (2000), Miami (2001) and Rice (2003), proving their worth as one of college's top baseball programs in the country. Ironically, one of Stotz' favorite memories is a pre-game talk before the final contest against Rice. Coach Marquess told his players to approach this game just as they did an intrasquad contest back in October, because in the fall he had demanded of them the highest attention to detail and commitment to the program. And that style of play was all he expected of them in the final game of the season. Unfortunately, Rice rolled to a 16-2 victory, but the Stanford team returned home, heads unbowed.

Stanford athletes, Dean Stotz maintains, are a unique breed. "They're of a belief that one person can change the dynamic in society. They're highly intellectual, charismatic, and witty and have so much going for them. (Being a coach) is kinda like being their mentor more than anything else," he reflects. 

One reason for this is that Stanford is highly selective in admission, and athletes see far less preferential treatment than at most other schools. Consequently, when Stanford baseball coaches are recruiting, they're not limited to a region or a state. "We're really a 'global campus,'" he offers. "There's no prototypical Stanford student. We're non-Californian as a university, and probably non-Californian as a baseball team."  

The ideal Stanford baseball player is a true student athlete, "Somebody who's respectful," Stotz says. "We analyze whether they respect their parents; that's a critical thing to me. We look for kids who would fit in with what we're all about. No shortcuts: academics are a dual priority, and that's important to us.  

"I'm also asking myself, 'Can I win the national title with this guy, skill wise? Does he make everyone (around him) better on his high school team?'" 

On the McClatchy High baseball team, teammate Mickey LeBeck (formerly Johnson) remembers Dean Stotz was the smartest baseball player he ever came across. Stotz, who played first base and pitched, was studying pitchers' tendencies, and picking up the ball out of the pitcher's hand, when most young players went to the plate and simply looked fastball. Stotz also proved cunning on the mound. He was the winning pitcher in the 1970 Capital Valley Invitational championship game for the Lions, and played the following year when the Lions went undefeated until they eventually lost in the high school playoffs.

Stotz marvels that it all started for him on the rough youth fields in the shadow of Sacramento's Executive Airport, culminating in the All-Star tournament of 1966. It almost didn't happen, as the Airport team was down 4-0 early in the contest to nearby Oak Ridge Little League. They fought back to tie the game in the 6th, and won it in the 9th inning because of a defensive error by an Oak Ridge player. Don Lyle, a scout for the Cleveland Indians, was on that Oak Ridge All-Star team. Each time he runs into Stotz he joshes, "You shouldn't have made it past the 2nd game!" Dino, he remembers, had one of the best curve balls of any Little Leaguer around. 

In Williamsport, as the U.S. West representative, Airport Little League won its first game against Canada, but lost the next game to a team from Houston, which eventually won the tournament. Stotz has held on to the great memories from that experience, but also recalls that his family was unable to attend the Little League World Series due to economic hardship. 

To make up for it, a couple of years ago Dean arranged a baseball fantasy trip for his parents and his sister who hadn't long to live. They attended games at Boston's Fenway Park, New York's Yankee Stadium, and made a side trip to Williamsport where they inspected the very dormitory Stotz stayed in as a 12-year-old. (His parents will be celebrating their 66th Anniversary this year.) 

Another bit of serendipity happened a few years back. Dean received a phone call from Carl Stotz, a resident of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and one of the founders of Little League baseball in 1938. Mr. Stotz (who has since passed away) informed the Stanford coach that they were distant relatives and enjoyed sharing his Little League baseball memories. 

Which only reinforced Dean Stotz' belief that he is definitely "the ultimate Outlier." 

# # # # 

Stotz Sidebar

If Dean Stotz could change one thing about college baseball?

Listen to his response here.

 

 

 



 Uploaded 03/20/10
 
All contents © Rick Cabral, 2010 

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