Feb. 24, 2004
Hometown: Mountain View, CA
High School: Los Altos HS
Stanford Baseball players are asked what advice they would have for youngsters as part of the biographical questionnaire they fill out prior to the season. Cameron Matthews advice was simply that "hard work pays off." Nothing could be truer for the junior outfielder, who is a member of the Stanford Baseball because of his hard work and tons of determination.
A local product from nearby Mountain View, Matthews grew up watching Stanford Baseball games. When he was around the age of 10, he even lived in campus housing in Escondido Village for nearly two years while his mother, Tracy Schwartz, was pursuing a master's degree in computer science from Stanford and would ride his bike over to Sunken Diamond.
He says that although he never had a defining moment, it was always in the back of his mind that "this is where I want to be 10 years from now."
Flash forward though those 10 years and Matthews is here, where he always wanted to be, but his path has been quite extraordinary.
Matthews graduated from Los Altos High School in 2001, where he earned All-Santa Clara Valley Athletic League honors twice by hitting a combined .361 with 19 doubles, five triples, two homers and 36 RBI in his final two seasons.
Matthews' prep success gave him a chance to go to a few others schools to play baseball, or even basketball after picking up three all-conference honors in hoops, but his heart was on The Farm.
"It was really a combination of a lot of things," said Matthews about his decision to come to Stanford. "I grew up in this area and rooted for Stanford. You really can't beat this atmosphere, it's a winning combination all the way around."
Matthews wasn't recruited by Stanford but did express his interest to play baseball on The Farm while attending Stanford's summer baseball camp prior to his senior season. He was told that if he got into school, he should come back during the fall of his freshman year in September of 2001 and let the coaching staff have a look. Matthews did just that but the look was short.
"I had a one day tryout, and I was told that they couldn't use me as a player at the time," remembered Matthews. "I was pretty devastated, but at the same time understanding."
What he was offered was a chance to become a team manager.
"I was told that if I wanted to stay involved with baseball that this was a really good way to do it," said Matthews. "But, it was made clear that I shouldn't have expectations that this would lead to a spot on the roster or getting to play at all."
Matthews was happy to be a part of the program but not completely satisfied. He still wanted to play. Matthews was allowed to take some batting practice and participate in a few drills during the fall of his freshman year but nothing came of it. The same thing happened again in the fall of his sophomore season, but when the 2003 campaign rolled around he still found himself as a team manager.
Still, Matthews wouldn't give up. He kept bending the ears of the coaching staff, while improving his skills with after-practice sessions as other Stanford players stuck around to help him out.
"Other guys on the team showed me a level of commitment to baseball that I hadn't seen before," said Matthews. "I really looked up to that and tried to follow what they were doing. It was nice of them because it didn't really mean anything to their development."
At the end of last year, he and Stanford head coach Mark Marquess discussed the possibility of Matthews coming out in the fall of 2003 as a player. Matthews obviously jumped at the chance.
"Coach Marquess told me that I had earned the chance to do that," said Matthews.
Matthews was also told that his status would be reevaluated after fall practice.
"I met with Coach Marquess after fall ball, and he asked me how I thought I did," recalls Matthews. "He said that I had made a good impression on the coaching staff, and that he thought I could play at this level. It was such a feeling of relief and pride that all the hard work I had done had paid off for me."
The feeling got even better in the bottom of the ninth last Saturday, at least for a moment. With the Cardinal trailing Texas, 9-6, with two outs and the bases loaded, Marquess looked at his bench and called on Matthews to pinch-run at first base.
"It was a great feeling, especially because it was in such a big spot," said Matthews, who became the potential tying run. "It made me feel good that Coach Marquess would count on me in a spot like that."
Unfortunately, his euphoria didn't last long when Texas recorded the final out on the next hitter, but Matthews now has bigger goals.
"I feel more serious about trying to play," explained Matthews. "The initial drive to just make the team is over, and I'm refocused on actually getting on the field and trying to make a difference. I'm trying to find a niche, and I've done that a little bit with running. Hopefully, that could lead to bigger things."
Matthews hasn't even been too sentimental about his first action as a Stanford player.
"I haven't even really looked at the box score yet," said Matthews. "But, my mom probably has it in a scrapbook."
A scrapbook that he hopes is just beginning.
by Kyle McRae