Of all the people who have ever thrown a baseball from West County, Max Scherzer from Parkway Central may throw it the hardest. He has hit 99 on the radar gun consistently since his sophomore year at Mizzou.
Scherzer could be blowing up right now: The 27-year-old right-hander is coming off a brilliant 15-9 season and helping the Detroit Tigers win the American League Central. He has won 27 games over the last two seasons. In his first 617 innings in the major leagues, Scherzer already has 598 strikeouts. He and Cy Young Award-winner, Justin Verlander, could emerge at the best 1-2 punch in the major leagues.
Scherzer has always been gifted. However, his rise was rapid—almost meteoric. Consider this: In June of 2003, he was drafted after his senior year at Parkway Central in the 43rd round by the Cardinals. Just three years and three days later, the Arizona Diamondbacks drafted Scherzer in the first round—the 11th pick overall. How did it all happen so quickly? We talked about that and more.
WHAT HAPPENED AT MIZZOU? It was all about hard work. I was able to transform my body: I lifted a lot harder and really utilized the weight-training facilities. Once I combined that with improved mechanics, it just worked.
WHAT ABOUT YOUR LITTLE LEAGUE CAREER IN CHESTERFIELD, IS THAT WHEN YOU KNEW YOUR RIGHT ARM WAS DIFFERENT? I always threw harder than everybody else. I played for a team called the Sluggers, and then eventually moved on to the Midwest Prospects.
HOW DO YOU REMEMBER YOUR FIRST MAJOR LEAGUE MOMENT? It was a good debut: We were playing the Houston Astros, and I was hoping to go out there and piece together a good first inning. I kept going out there, and I kept getting people out. And at the time, the Astros had some big-time hitters. I struck out seven and pitched four-and-a-third innings.
BASEBALL HERO GROWING UP? Ozzie Smith. I always wanted to be a shortstop.
BEST PURCHASE AS A MAJOR LEAGUER? This sounds a little strange, but my favorite purchase is this coffee table that rises to be a dinner table. It’s really cool.
YOUR PARENTS, BRAD AND JAN, HOW DID THEY HELP YOU MAKE IT? They were so supportive in every single way— making sure I was doing well in school and supporting me in basketball and football. I wouldn’t be here without them.
MOST EMBARASSING MOMENT AS A PITCHER? It was 2008, I was just coming off an injury, and I was pitching in the minor leagues. It was my first appearance back. I got shelled. When I was walking off, I tossed the ball to the manager before he got to the mound. I looked so foolish, like I was showing up the manager. That’s the last time that happened.
5 RANDOM THOUGHTS:
◆ Mike Matheny may not be the most athletic person in the family. His son, Tate, the best hitter in town from Westminster, is going to Missouri State. His daughter, Katie, a junior from Westminster, has given an oral committment to Ohio State.
◆At the funeral of Hall-of-Famer Ed Macauley, his son, Bob, broke out a jersey and said with a heavy heart that the family was retiring it in honor of his father.
◆ If you factor in character, creativity, longevity and results, we haven’t had many better high school football coaches in our town than Gary Kornfeld.
◆ SLU would like to schedule a home game with Florida so Chaminade grad Brad Beal can play in his hometown. It had better happen quickly because Beal won’t be at Florida for four years.
◆ If the world were going to end, one of the last 10 things I would eat would be a sausage pizza from Faraci’s Pizza.
Frank Cusumano is a 14-time Emmy Award winner on KSDK-TV, and he also can be heard on 590 KFNS Radio.