Story by Grant Gurewitz, Media Relations Director, Emerald Otters
Trip to Omaha. Major League Draft pick. Two life-long dreams for a baseball player, completed in the same year by Maxx Tissenbaum. As a part of the 2012 Stony Brook Seawolves team, he helped the team defy a
"Each of the streets leading away from the park is named after one of the teams" The team hotel was located on Seawolves Avenue.
While playing in the Super Regional at LSU, Tissenbaum learned that he had been drafted by the Padres in the 11th round of the MLB Draft. "I got the call from (scout) Jim Bretz that I was going to be with the Padres." Being drafted surely gave the All-America East first team member an adrenaline rush-enough to propel Stony Brook to a Super Regional win in Baton Rouge.
To get to the Super Regional, Stony Brook had to get through the Coral Gables Regional hosted by University of Central Florida. Tissenbaum's current teammates, Ronnie Richardson and Roman Madrid, played for the Knights, but they all had not been drafted yet to know they would be in the same organization within weeks.
Though the Seawolves could not win the college title, the players knew their accomplishment. "It would have been nice to win, but it has a great impact on the program, our careers, our lives outside of baseball and the school," said Tissenbaum. "Looking back, this is going to be one of the greatest teams at Stony Brook ever."
After the great playoff run, the New York Mets invited the team to watch batting practice at Citi Field. "It was nice to talk to a lot of the big leaguers," said Tissenbaum. "At that point I had been drafted so I was picturing myself five years or so down the line, saying yeah I can do this. This can be my life."
After a short break, Tissenbaum reported to Padres camp in Arizona and played one game with the Arizona League team before heading to Eugene to play for the Emeralds. For the kid who went to school in New York and grew up in Toronto, Oregon is a long way from home.
"I have gotten a lot of phone calls and texts saying people have really messed up their sleeping habits trying to listen to my games." It is a role-reversal for Tissenbaum who used to stay up late to watch Toronto Blue Jays games when they played at 10 pm ET, while on the west coast. Tissenbaum now is that late west coast game.
Life in professional baseball is quite different to that of the past for Tissenbaum. "I have been used to having a pretty similar core group of guys." That is not the case in Minor League Baseball as one day the locker next to him will be for one player and the next day another. "It started to hit me that this really is a job," said Tissenbaum. "It really keeps you honest in what you are doing."
"You do not want to be the guy who gets the tap on the shoulder saying you are heading down to the 130 degree heat in Arizona," is what keeps Tissenbaum driven. "You are doing everything you can to either stay here or keep moving forward."
Going through the College World Series helped Tissenbaum to handle the pressure and added attention. After having a rough summer season last year he was pretty down on himself. "As nice as it is to have scouts and coaches all over your team, it is really just a distraction." As Tissenbaum puts it, "The only thing that matters is how you play the game."
One thing that has been constant in a year of movement, transition and excitement is how much Tissenbaum is active with his fans. It started with his mother wanting him to log his experiences and has now branched into a blog read by many. "I have been getting Facebook messages, Tweets from kids, college players, friends and family saying they like the insight."
"It is nice to be able to give that back, since when I was growing up, I was always the little kid hanging around the bigger teams field," said Tissenbaum. "To be in this position now, it is pretty rewarding for me."
Since joining the Ems, Tissenbaum has been a constant fixture in the middle of the order playing second base. Manager Pat Murphy has been preaching a "boring" approach at the plate. Being boring at the plate is translated to staying short and compact to the ball while hitting line drives up the middle.
"If you can do that, not only are your numbers going to be there, but as you develop physically then the power will develop," says Tissenbaum who has been anything but boring at the plate. Heading into Wednesday Tissenbaum is batting .274 and third on the team with runs batted in.
"I am not going to be a 15-20 home run guy, right now," according to Tissenbaum. "I have to focus on staying boring."