From the beach to baseball, Del Mar native catching success at USC

TPHS alum Garrett Stubbs’ dream came true when USC came calling.Photo/Pierson Clair

By Rob LeDonne

When you grow up steps away from the Pacific on Del Mar’s well known 15th Street, odds are you’d want to pursue surfing. However, for Garrett Stubbs, a 2011 graduate of Torrey Pines High School, he’s focused his athletic abilities on baseball — and in a big way. Stubbs is currently in the midst of his second season as part of USC’s Trojan baseball team, one of the most well known athletic organizations nationwide.

“I always wanted to play for USC,” explained Stubbs from Berkeley, where he’s gearing up for an away game. “Baseball was something I knew I always wanted to pursue.”

Like many kids, Stubbs was introduced to the sport by first playing little league, which was followed by a few stints as part of traveling teams.

Garrett Stubbs. Photo courtesy of USC Sports Information.

“I was playing both baseball and soccer until I was 13, and then I decided to focus fully on baseball,” said Stubbs. It was around this time when he met Ed Herrmann, a San Diego native and former Major Leauge Baseball catcher. Herrmann, who played for a variety of teams such as the New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox in the 1970s, was first introduced to Stubbs through his step-grandfather. Remembers Stubbs: “He asked Ed if he’d be willing to coach me when I was about 10 years old, and he’s been my coach ever since.”

Herrmann’s coaching seems to have paid off as Stubbs was a two-time All-CIF Selection while playing at Torrey Pines, a high honor for a high school player. By the summer of Stubbs’ junior year, he was recruited by USC — a dream come true at the time.

“High school was awesome for me, I loved it. Hoggie (Herrmann’s nickname) taught me everything I knew about catching up until that point. As long as I could remember, I always wanted to go to USC but never really knew how I was going to do it, or how hard it was going to be to get in,” says Stubbs. “They started to show interest in me during my sophomore year, and by the time I was a junior they asked me to join the team. There was just no question about it and I accepted with open arms.”

Stubbs also credits his coach during his time at Torrey Pines, Matt Chess, for his success: “Chess really helped me with my hitting, and became not only my coach but my friend.”

Last spring, Stubbs made his college debut as he stepped out onto the grass at USC’s Dedeaux Field.

“My very first game I got to start was opening day my freshman year, and it was pretty surreal.” Stubbs explained. “I never get nervous beforehand because it’s just a game, but that day was the first time I ever really, really felt nervous; it was more excitement than anything, because I couldn’t believe I had made it to that point.”

The team’s season was off to a hot start, winning seven straight games before cooling off, and Stubbs sees his freshman year as a learning experience.

Says Stubbs: “That first season was kind of a roller coaster ride, but I think everyone needs a season like that. Personally, I had to learn how to manage my time with baseball and school. It’s a juggling act.”

Time management is a must for any college student, especially for members of USC’s baseball team which has a brutal schedule. For example, the next three weeks of play finds the team in Los Angeles Oregon, Utah, Malibu, and back again.

However, just like when Stubbs was at Torrey Pines, he’s thinking of his future yet again — but this time it’s about whether or not he’ll get a chance to play for the majors.

“I know from getting recruited to go to USC that you never know when an opportunity is going to present itself. Now that I’m here, I’m going to do everything I can to get to the next level,” Stubbs notes, summing up: “Baseball is going to end at some point for me — whether it’s in two years or 20, I’ll have to wait and see.”

For now Stubbs is focusing on his next game, and is hoping the rest falls into place.