April 12, 2002
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - After a year in which his batting average hovered around .230, senior Joey Gomes has emerged as one of the biggest threats in the West Coast Conference. Through the first half of the season, the senior slugger is leading the Broncos in the Triple-Crown categories, batting .418 with six home runs and 30 RBI.
Now, with only a few weeks left in his collegiate career, Gomes took a few minutes to answer a wide variety of questions ranging from his experience on the Mission Campus to who his hero and best friend is.
Q: What has your four years been like at Santa Clara University?
A: "For me it has been like a fresh start with Coach O'Brien, he has really been a breath of fresh air around here. The last two years for me have been really monotone in that it was just the same old story every day. You would play and that would be it, there was no real energy amongst the team at all and no real excitement. Now with Coach O'Brien he brings real excitement and charisma and other intangibles to the table. His leadership ability is uncanny and it begins at the top and works its way down."
Q: What has been the biggest turnaround for you from last year?
A: "I think the biggest change for me has just been the opportunity I have gotten to go out there and play every day. Last year, for whatever reason, I just never really got the chance to play, but this year Coach O'Brien has had the faith in me and let me go out there and do the things I knew I was capable of doing."
Q: How big does the ball look when you are on hitting streaks like you have been on so far this year?
A: "It does look just like a big beach ball coming in. It is really weird and I am not sure it can be explained, but everything that comes in looks like it can be hit. It is really fun when you get in the zone like that."
Q: What do you focus on at the plate?
A: "When I get up there I just look for a good pitch to hit. I know it sounds a little basic and easy, maybe even to easy, but that is the story of the game. You just have to get up there and look for a good pitch to hit and then putting a good swing on it. So there is no real secret or special science for it, it is just the way it happens."
Q: What has your overall experience been like at Santa Clara?
A: "A wonderful experience overall. The atmosphere has been real cool from the standpoint that it is big enough that if you want to sit back and not be too social you can, but it is small enough where if you want to go out and meet everybody, you can also do that. The classes are small so therefore you can meet your professors and build a relationship there. So, college for me has just been all about the relationships that I have built with the team, friends and the faculty. It has really been a positive experience in my life."
Q: The relationships that you have built with teammates over the years, are they ones that will last for a long time?
A: "Definitely. Mainly with this year's senior class and the guys that I have spent the last three or four years with. I love these guys to death. Guys like Pat Peavey, A.J. Ampi, Grant Feichtmeir and Jack Headley, these guys are lifetime friends. We've established a tight bond, we just click and it is something that I will always cherish."
Q: Mike Crudale, a former teammate of yours, made his Major League Baseball debut just a day or two ago, is that something you dream of doing as well?
A: "It is a dream and definitely a goal of mine to play in the big leagues, but I can only control my attitude and what I can do. It is something that is a goal though and something that I will continue to work very hard at to try and accomplish."
Q: Has Santa Clara prepared you for life after baseball?
A: "It really has. The lessons in life that I have learned in life, not only on the baseball field but in the classroom as well will stay with me in the long run and help me in the real world. How to relate to different people and how to handle different situations and even on how to think, these are the things you learn. You really can't help but become a more well-rounded person at Santa Clara and I thank them for that."
Q: When did you decide that baseball was the sport you wanted to play?
A: "From day one. Ever since I began playing, I knew that it was me and the ball. Even back before I could walk, I have seen photos of when my mom dressed me up in Oakland A's clothes. I have just loved it and knew. There has never been a time where I was burned out on the sport. Especially playing in California where you can play year-round, I have never ever been burned out on it. I love the game, I love what it offers and I love the humbling aspect of it as well. Baseball is funny in that you can do everything right and still get out, and then do everything wrong and still get a hit. That just fascinates me about the game."
Q: How much has your Mom meant to you in baseball and in life?
A: "My mom has been the most amazing person that I know. She is my hero for sure. She was a single mom and she raised two kids by herself. My brother Johnny Gomes, who is currently playing in the Tampa Bay Devil Rays organization, and myself, the first Gomes to go to college, it really is a tribute to her and what she has been able to do for us. A single mom, raising two kids on her own since the age of 16 years old is amazing. I just cannot appreciate her enough and thank her enough for what she has done. She is also one of my best friends and I can talk to her about anything"