Thursday, December 15, 2011

Indy Interview - Val Majewski

Val Majewski was a 3rd Round pick of the Baltimore Orioles in the 2002 MLB Amatuer draft (76th Overall) out of Rutgers University.

He flew through the ranks of the Orioles organization. In 2004, he hit 15 Home Run's with 80 RBI's for Bowie in the Eastern League. Later that season he was called up by the Orioles. On August 20, 2004 he made his major league debut.

During that same season Majewski suffered a torn labrum, but was still named "Orioles Minor League Player of the Year."

Majewski missed the entire 2005 season but came back in 2006 and was assigned to Triple-A Ottawa where he hit .260 with 4 home runs, and 39 RBI's.

In 2007, he split time between Double-A Bowie, and Triple-A Norfolk.

In 2008, he was released by the Orioles and signed with the Newark Bears in the Atlantic League. He only played 50 games for the Bears that season (through those 50 games he was hitting .368 with 8 home runs, and 47 RBI's) before he was signed by the Houston Astros organization and assigned to Double-A Corpus Christi (eventually he would be promoted to Triple-A Round Rock).

Majewski didn't get signed by an affiliated team at the beginning of the 2009 season, so he signed with Camden Riversharks. He only played 28 games for the 'Sharks that season before he was signed by the Angels organization.

In 2010, he started in the Atlantic League again but this time with the York Revolution. Majewski hit .328 with 2 home run's and 24 RBI's before he was signed by the A's organization.

Like the three previous season Majewski returned to the Atlantic League in 2011 signing with the York Revolution. However, his stay would be short as Rangers organization came calling and Majewski left the Atlantic League again.

The Rangers assigned him to Triple-A Round Rock where he hit .333 with 3 home run's and 33 RBI's in only 35 games. After the Triple-A season was over Majewski returned to York, and eventually helped them win the 2011 Atlantic League Championship over the Long Island Ducks.

CM: You're from New Jersey, watch the show Cake Boss?

VM: I have watched it a bunch and know people that have been to the shop in Hoboken. They say at certain time you can not even get into the bakery it is soo packed.

CM: You had a solid college career at Rutgers, what was that like?

VM: Rutgers was awesome. Coming out of HS I did not have many colleges looking at me and I was very happy when RU gave me a chance. They did not guarantee anything but made sure that I would play if I earned it. I learned a lot about the fundamentals of the game. I also learned most of what I know about hitting while I was there. We had a great bunch of guys made of mostly NJ natives. We won a lot and spend a lot of time in the national rankings. Some of my current closest friends were guys that I played with on those teams.

CM: You were drafted in the 2002 Draft you were selected in the 3rd Round (76th Overall). Do you remember where you were when you were drafted and how did it feel?

VM: I was in my parents house in Freehold, NJ listening to the live draft on the computer. Some of my family and friends were there as well. Back then the draft was one giant conference call and each team had one guy reading off the names that they were picking. I was very sure that I was going to get drafted but I was not sure where. When they called my name everyone went nuts. We celebrated for a little then I went to meet up with my other friends that had been drafted that day.

CM: You had some solid seasons in the Orioles organization, what was your favorite moment?

VM: It was definitely making my major league debut and getting my first hit. It was the ultimate dream come true.

CM: What was it like the first time you saw yourself on a baseball card?

VM: It was cool. I knew that I was going to be on a card, I mean I had a photo session where they took a number of shots, but the coolest part was when one of my brother's friends got my card in a pack that he bought from the store.

CM: In 2004, you got promoted to the Major Leagues with the Orioles, where were you when it happened? How did you find out?

VM: I was playing for the Bowie Baysox and we were in Reading about to stretch for batting practice. I got pulled out by one of the coaches and got told that the manager, Dave Trembley, wanted to see me. He asked me to take a walk with him around the ballpark and he informed me that I had to be in Baltimore that night for a 7pm game. They had arranged for me to rent a car at the local airport and drive 2 hours to Baltimore. I showered quick, packed my bags, and said goodbye to my team and headed to the airport. Upon arriving there I found out that I could not rent a car because I was not yet 25, I was 23. So with no options a lady that worked in the front office of the Reading team offered to drive me down to Baltimore. We got there in the 2nd or 3rd inning and there waiting for me was a big league locker and a jersey with my name on it. It sank it that I had made it.

CM: You debuted on August 20, 2004, do you remember you first at-bat? What happened?

VM: The first at-bat I clearly remember. We were losing 14-4 and it was the top of the ninth. Bench coach, Sam Perlozzo, came up to me and said that I was hitting for I believe Luis Matos in the bottom of the inning. I asked him if I was going in to play center also and he paused and said, "I sure hope so" ( we would have had to score 10 in the 9th for me to play). I was so nervous that I wasn't thinking about that part when I asked the question. The entire time leading up to me getting into box was so nervewracking. I thought I had calmed myself and then as soon as I step in the box the announcer says, "now making his major league debut, Val Majewski!" The crowd cheered and the nerves came back, but only for a second. When I got into my stance and saw the pitcher the nerves went away and it was just baseball again. The first pitch was right down the middle, I mean on a tee, and I took it. 0-1. I wanted to see one and make sure that I wasn't too anxious. Then a slider down and I got called on a check swing, 0-2. A splitter down, that I couldn't believe that I didn't even flinch at, made the count 1-2. A fastball a little too much outside evened the count at 2 and 2. Then he threw a fastball middle out that I got a good piece of and flew out to deep left field. I got a standing ovation.

CM: During your stint with the Orioles you tore you labrum and had to sit out the entire 2005 season? Did you think your career was over?

VM: I didn't think my career was over, but I was concerned about how long it would take to return to my previous form. The answer to that question ended up being 3 years from my surgery.

CM: After the 2007 season you were released by the Orioles, and decided to sign with with Newark Bears. How did you hear about the Atlantic League, and become Bear?

VM: I actually got released with 2 days left in spring training 2008. I was one of those guys that always said I would never play indy ball and that I would rather give it up. But I was so wrong about what it was and how I would feel when the choice was either give up playing of play Indy ball. I had a few friends play the year before for the Bears and my best friend, Tim Sweeney, had signed with them in '08 to be the utility guy. When I got released it was around the time that other teams were making cuts so I had a very slim chance of signing with another affiliated team so I called Newark. They didn't have a spot for me at first but they said I could come to their spring training and play for a spot. By the end of camp I had made the team and was ready to make it back to affiliated ball. Playing in Newark was, at the time, the most fun I had had playing baseball and I rediscovered my love for the game. We had a blast and were really good too.

CM: For the past four seasons you've started in the Atlantic League, and ultimately signed with an affiliated organizations? What makes you keep coming back to Atlantic League?

VM: Like I said, I never though I would ever play Indy and I have been going on 4 years now. It is fun. It is a place for guys in my situation who still have a love for the game and want to play for a shot at making it with an affiliated club. The fact that I have had success getting out of the league has also kept me coming back. The process has worked in my case. But to repeat this point, it is fun! I have been on some great teams, with great dudes, and amazing clubhouse chemistry. It's the type of chemistry for some reason you do not see in affiliated ball. I can't really explain it, but it is special.

CM: After playing four seasons in the Atlantic League how do you feel about the league and the level of baseball?

VM: The level of baseball has gotten better and better each year I have been in it. The way baseball has gone the past few years and it being harder and harder for free agents to find jobs the Atlantic league has benefited from it. The talent and level of competition is comparable to AA and AAA. Now, obviously AA and AAA has some of baseball's top prospects in it, so I am not saying that we have FUTURE big leaguers, but we do have a lot of FORMER top prospects and FORMER big leaguers. It is a very veteran league. I think that if we put together an Atlantic League team and through it into either the IL or PCL that we would compete. I am not saying we would win it all, but we would definitely compete.

CM: In 2009, you played briefly with the Camden Riversharks before you were signed by Angels. Yet, in 2010 you decided to sign with the York Revolution. What were the circumstances of you going to York?

VM: That's a good question. It was actually '09 with Camden and then '10 in York. I was not sure if I was going to play Indy ball again. I had a house to pay for and a family to support and I got a regular job selling insurance thinking that if I did not sign with an affiliated team that I would still have a good chance to sign even if I did not play Indy ball again. I was in Camden on an insurance appointment and I was having a bad day at work and decided to say hi to Adam Lorber the GM of Camden. I told him that I was working and was not going to play in the Atlantic League. He told me that if I needed anything that they would be willing to help. As I was in there my phone was ringing and I did not pick it up. After the visit, I was doubting my intention to not play in the AL and started having seconds thoughts about my decision. I went to my car and saw who called and it was Andy Etchebarren saying that he heard I was still a free agent and that he had a place for me to play if I wanted it. I talked to my wife about it and called Etch back the next day to tell him that I'll take the job. Funny how things work out.

CM: In 2011, you started the season with York and were signed by the Texas Rangers organization, and played in AAA Round Rock. After the season was over you requested to be released, and resigned with York. Eventually, York beat the Ducks in the championship series. How important was it for you to come back to the the Revolution and finish what you started (a championship)?

VM: I didn't initially ask to be released. We got beat in the playoffs of the PCL and my wife, my son, and I were taking our sweet time coming back East. We made stops in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Virginia on our way home to Maryland. It wasn't until we were leaving Virginia that Etch called me and asked if I would interested in coming back for the playoffs. I was interested but did not want to do anything to jeopardize my status with the Rangers. The Revolution called the Rangers and worked it out where they were OK with it and I once again became a Revolution. I wanted to do it because I wanted to help the team win. I had never won a pro championship and I missed out on the one the year before. And like I mentioned earlier the guys were so awesome that getting a second chance at being apart of that clubhouse made me very happy. This was about finishing the job, having more fun, and getting a ring.

CM: Who's your favorite teammate?

VM: There have been a lot of great teammates that I can not choose just one

CM: Who's your favorite baseball player?

Mark McGwire and Don Mattingly

CM: If you could play catch with one person dead or alive, who would it be?

If you mean just play catch, then Peyton Manning, but if it were specifically baseball then Babe Ruth. The man is baseball royalty.

CM: What do you think of the fans in York? And Atlantic League fans?

VM: The fans of York are some of the most dedicated and loving fans that I have ever seen. They support, they follow us where ever we go, and they show up when you need them. It was great to share the championship victory with them in order to show them how much they meant to us.

(picture on card provided by Paul Hadsall)

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