This Month In Matador Athletics - February, 2011

Jan. 31, 2011

Complete Release - February Newsletter Get Acrobat Reader

Bob Vazquez, Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations, offers his monthly insights on the accomplishments on the teams, coaches and student-athletes who compete for Cal State Northridge ... The monthly report includes upcoming key games, and a report on what other activities are happening in the CSUN Athletic Department ... This month, reliving some major league moments with former Dodger pitcher and now CSUN assistant baseball coach Tim Leary ... A former CSUN volleyball player joins the Peace Corps.

Baseball Beat ...
One of the great things about having an adjacent office next to the baseball suite is to hear some great stories from Tim Leary, the former major league pitcher, who is in his first season as assistant baseball coach at Cal State Northridge ... Leary pitched 15 seasons in the major leagues and won 17 games in 1988 to help lead the Los Angeles Dodgers to the world championship ... Here are some of his memorable tidbits of information.

"During my 15 years in the major leagues, I hit ONE home run but it came off Hall of Fame pitcher Steve Carlton in Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia when I was playing for the New York Mets in 1984. The count was 2-0 and he threw me a fastball and I hit the ball into the bullpen in left field. I still have the bat but the ball is some where in storage. I'm sure Carlton was upset when he gave up that home run, but what a big thrill for me. The bat was a 35-inch, 33-ounce wood bat with a thick handle, the same model that Dave Kingman used.

"I was pitching for the New York Yankees the day Rickey Henderson of the Oakland A's stole third base to break the major league career stolen base record in 1991. They stopped the game. We (the Yankees) came off the field and sat in the dugout while Henderson declared "I am the greatest base stealer of all-time." Nolan Ryan pitched his seventh no-hitter on the same day to steal some of Rickey's headlines."

"I was proud to say I hit .269 as a pitcher for the Dodgers in 1988, the year we won the world championship. For most of the year, I hit .300. I prided myself on being a good baseball player and so I worked a lot on different areas of the game. I had three game-winning rbi's, I pinch-hit a game winning hit against the Giants."

"My first major league hit was the last game of the 1983 season in Shea Stadium against Montreal. I had just been called up to the Mets from the minor leagues. I pitched nine innings but in my first at-bat, Steve Rogers threw me a slider that I hit into center field for a hit. I was on first base and I told myself `that's how we do it' ... I also got my first win that day. Rusty Staub pinch hit for me and hit a double down the right field line off Jeff Reardon to win the game."

"My most embarassing moment took place pitching for UCLA. During a game, the ball slipped out of my hand and it sailed over the first base dugout. As Bob Uecker would say, `Just a bit outside."

Travis' Travels ...
Travis Bleumling had a distinguished career (2005-08) as a volleyball player at Cal State Northridge ... From the "Where are They Now" file, Bleumling is now an English language teacher in the Peace Corps where he is currently living in a village in Candipuro, Jawa Timur, Indonesia ... The Peace Corps is a U.S. government assistance program that places teachers and development workers in developing countries ... Bleumling and 17 others are the first Peace Corps volunteers working in Indonesia in 45 years ... Jakarta expelled the Peace Corps in 1965, in part because of anti-American protest from the Indonesian Communist Party and false rumors that volunteers were working with the CIA ... Today some anti-American sentiment still exists in Indonesia ... But with the election of President Barack Obama, who lived in Indonesia as a child, and a new U.S. emphasis on engagement with Asia, economic and political ties are growing between two of the largest democracies in the world ... According to his Facebook page, Bleumling said recently there was one of the loudest thunder storms he had ever witnessed ... "At one point I jumped out of bed to make sure it wasn't Mt. Semeru (a nearby active volcano) exploding. My house was shaking. Nisha (another volunteer about 90 minutes away from me) also woke up from the thunderstorms, and it was the longest thunder I've ever heard" ... Some words of wisdom from Travis if you're going for a run on the streets of Indonesia and are about to turn a corner or the road is about to bend. "make sure there are no motorcycles carrying cages of chickens because when they turn, a ton of chicken @@#$ flies out of the cages. I didn't get hit this time, but it was damn close" ... Bleumling is enjoying his experience teaching the locals to speak English, but he says he will find time on Sunday, February, 6, to watch his hometown Pittsburgh Steelers face the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV.

Lizarraga's Ledger ...
Michael Lizarraga continues to gain national attention for his inspirational play as a basketball player despite being the only deaf player on the NCAA Division I level ... Lizarraga's story was recently chronicled in the New York Times ... A television crew from CBS Sports in New York recently spent nearly the entire day profiling Lizarraga's story which will be aired during the NCAA Tournament in March ... The Los Angeles Times will soon have Michael's story in an upcoming edition, and is sending senior national college basketball reporter Dana O'Neill to visit the Cal State Northridge campus to write a story on Lizarraga ... Lizarraga is also making news on a different front, this time off the court ... Last year, Michael was introduced to Kendra Blessing, a hearing student at Cal State Northridge, at a bowling party ... Blessing intends on becoming a sign language interpreter, and she and Michael became good friends ... During a recent hike which ended up under the iconic Hollywood sign, Lizarraga proposed marriage ... Kendra said YES!!! ... Congratulations Michael and Kendra.