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Wednesday, October 19, 2011
World Series Alumni: Cardinals catcher comes from record-breaking past

By By Mark Tennis

California once again tops the charts on the annual ESPNHS World Series Alumni honor roll.

Twelve players who are from California high schools are among the 50 on the active rosters of either the Texas Rangers or St. Louis Cardinals. Those two began play Wednesday in this year’s World Series in St. Louis.
Albert Pujols, Area Code Baseball, high school baseball, St. Louis Cardinals
Albert Pujols at the 1998 Area Code Baseball Games in Long Beach, Calif. It was the Royals last year with an Area Code team until 2011.

The only other state with five or more players is Texas with six. California also has more than any other nation, including the Dominican Republic, which counts seven in this year’s World Series.

The Golden State contingent is perhaps best represented by Cardinals catcher Gerald Laird. During Laird’s four seasons from 1995 to 1998 at La Quinta of Westminster, he collected 210 hits to set a state record. According to the ESPNHS Cal-Hi Sports record book, Laird also set state records in 1998 for season hits (68), season doubles (54) and most runs scored for a career (169).

None of Laird’s high school state records still stand, but many of his totals are still listed in the book. These also include his 1998 season batting average of .630 and his career batting average of .519.

In Laird’s final high school game, just after he was chosen in the second-round of the annual MLB draft by the Oakland Athletics, he hit a two-run homer at Dodger Stadium in the CIF Southern Section championships. His La Quinta team, however, was upset in that game 9-3 by Ocean View of Huntington Beach, preventing the Aztecs (30-2) from being No. 1 in the state in their division.

A few of Laird’s school records at La Quinta haven’t lasted, either. That’s because a few years later third baseman Ian Stewart and pitcher Ian Kennedy came along to lead the Aztecs under longtime coach Dave Demarest. Stewart and Kennedy led La Quinta to championship seasons of 29-3 in 2002 and 30-2 in 2003. Stewart was the Cal-Hi Sports Mr. Baseball State Player of the Year in 2003 and is currently playing for the Colorado Rockies. Kennedy was an all-state pitcher and is regarded as a possible Cy Young Award winner for his work during the 2011 MLB season with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

We found a few other golden nuggets while looking over this year’s World Series Alumni list:

Mike Napoli of the Rangers is from a Florida high school that is currently considered among the best programs in the nation. Two years ago, his alma mater, Flanagan of Pembroke Pines, went 25-2 and was No. 5 in the final POWERADE FAB 50. When Napoli played for the Falcons, the program was just starting roll with a 23-7 record in 2000. The school later won state titles in 2005, 2006 and 2010.

Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday is still regarded as one of the best football-baseball players in Oklahoma high school history. Holliday passed for 6,211 yards and 68 touchdowns during his career as a quarterback at Stillwater. He also was chosen the Gatorade State Player of the Year in both sports.

Kyle Lohse of the Cardinals is from Hamilton City, Calif., not far from the Northern California town of Chico, the hometown of Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers.

Perhaps the hottest pitcher going into this year’s World Series, Chris Carpenter of the Cardinals, went to high school in the frosty weather of New Hampshire. This is the second year in a row, however, that a shut-down pitcher in the World Series is from New Hampshire. Last year, New Hampshire’s Brian Wilson got the final out for the San Francisco Giants when they topped the Rangers in five games.

Here is the complete list of the 2011 ESPNHS World Series Alumni (listed alphabetically according to state location of each player’s high school):

Ian Kinsler (Canyon del Oro, Tucson) Rangers INF

Craig Gentry (Fort Smith Christian, Fort Smith) Rangers OF

Allen Craig (Chaparral, Temecula) Cardinals OF
Daniel Descalso (St. Francis, Mountain View) Cardinals INF
Scott Feldman (Burlingame) Rangers P
Gerald Laird (La Quinta, Westminster) Cardinals C
Colby Lewis (North, Bakersfield) Rangers P
Kyle Lohse (Hamilton, Hamilton City) Cardinals P
Darren Oliver (Rio Linda) Rangers P
Nick Punto (Trabuco Hills, Mission Viejo) Cardinals INF
Marc Rzepczynski (Servite, Anaheim) Cardinals P
Skip Schumaker (Aliso Niguel, Aliso Viejo) Cardinals OF
C.J. Wilson (Fountain Valley) Rangers P
Michael Young (Bishop Amat, La Puente) Rangers DH

Jon Jay (Columbus, Miami) Cardinals OF
Mike Napoli (Flanagan, Pembroke Pines) Rangers C

Mitchell Boggs (Dalton) Cardinals P
Edwin Jackson (Shaw, Columbus) Cardinals P

Lance Lynn (Brownsburg) Cardinals P

Ryan Theriot (Broadmoor, Baton Rouge) Cardinals INF

Mitch Moreland (Amory) Rangers INF

David Freese (Lafayette, Wildwood) Cardinals INF
Kyle McClellan (Hazelwood West, Hazelwood) Cardinals P
Albert Pujols (Fort Osage, Independence) Cardinals INF

New Hampshire
Chris Carpenter (Trinity, Manchester) Cardinals P

New York
Jason Motte (Valley Central, Montgomery) Cardinals P

North Carolina
Josh Hamilton (Athens Drive, Raleigh) Rangers OF
Matt Harrison (South Granville, Creedmoor) Rangers P

Matt Holliday (Stillwater) Cardinals OF

Derek Holland (Newark) Rangers P

Mike Adams (Sinton) Rangers P
Lance Berkman (Canyon, New Braunfels) Cardinals OF
Jaime Garcia (Sharyland, Mission) Cardinals P
Michael Gonzalez (Harvest Christian Academy, Pasadena) Rangers P
David Murphy (Klein) Rangers OF
Arthur Rhodes (La Vega, Waco) Cardinals P

Players from other countries

Dominican Republic
Adrian Beltre, Rangers INF
Nelson Cruz, Rangers OF
Octavio Dotel, Cardinals P
Netfali Feliz, Rangers P
Rafael Furcal, Cardinals INF
Esteban German, Rangers INF
Alexi Ogando, Rangers P

Yoshinori Tateyama, Rangers P
Koji Uehara, Rangers P

Fernando Salas, Cardinals P

Puerto Rico
Yadier Molina, Cardinals C

Elvis Andrus, Rangers INF
Endy Chavez, Rangers OF
Yorvit Torrealba, Rangers C

Paul Muyskens contributed to this report.