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MLB Network analyst Eric Byrnes, the former player for the Oakland Athletics and Arizona Diamondbacks, had better be doing a feature this week on the only high school in the nation with two players in this year’s World Series.
That’s because Byrnes is from the same school. And it’s the same school that was nearly No. 1 in the state last spring with a 29-4 record and CIF Central Coast Section Division I title.
Yes, the school we’re talking about is St. Francis of Mountain View. Former Lancer Daniel Descalso will be playing in the 2013 World Series, which begins Wednesday night, for the St. Louis Cardinals. Former Lancer Daniel Nava, meanwhile, will be patrolling the outfield for the Boston Red Sox.
St. Francis is the only high school in the U.S. with two players in this year’s World Series. The rarity of the feat also is shown by the fact that it’s been since 2002 when it happened before for a California school. In that World Series, both Robb Nen and J.T. Snow from Los Alamitos in Southern California played for the San Francisco Giants.
As the recent MLB playoffs were unfolding, it was not lost on the current cast of players at St. Francis that Descalso and Nava could both be playing on baseball’s biggest stage.
“It’s a huge deal around here,” said St. Francis head coach Mike Oakland. “Everyone keyed on it and we’re all really excited about it.”
Oakland said that legendary former Lancers’ coach Chris Bradford, who coached both Descalso and Nava when they went to the school, will be attending games when the series moves to St. Louis.
“He said he was as nervous watching their games in the last week as he was when he was watching us in last year’s playoffs,” Oakland said. “Now, he’s not nervous at all. Either way, he feels like he’ll win.”
Descalso also is a well-known figure around the Mountain View campus because in recent years he’s spent one to two weeks at his old high school working out with the team before he’s headed to spring training.
“He’s doing the same drills they are and he knows all of their names,” Oakland said. “He’s just out there every day with the guys, picking up balls, bats, whatever.”
Nava has stayed in touch with his former high school as well and has spoken at local clinics, relaying his never-say-die story about hanging in there despite adversity and not being well-known by college or pro scouts. Eventually, he not only made it to the big leagues but hit a grand slam in his first at-bat for the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
“Descalso was a third or fourth round pick coming out of UC Davis but it’s not like he was a million dollar prospect, either,” Oakland said. “They are the most down to earth guys you’ll ever see.”
Here is a list of this year’s World Series alums from California high schools:
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
Allen Craig (Chaparral, Temecula) INF/DH
Daniel Descalso (St. Francis, Mountain View) INF
Joe Kelly (Corona) P
BOSTON RED SOX
Quintin Berry (Morse, San Diego) OF
Mike Carp (Lakewood) OF
Jonny Gomes (Casa Grande, Petaluma) OF
Daniel Nava (St. Francis, Mountain View) OF
Dustin Pedroia (Woodland) INF
State is tied for first this time
California led the world last season with 10 players in the World Series between the San Francisco Giants and Detroit Tigers and also led the world in 2011 with 11 when the Cardinals played the Texas Rangers. It’s a designation that includes countries such as Venezuela and the Dominican Republic.
This year, though, the state is tied with Texas at eight each. Both Texas and Florida would have been higher, except for Allen Craig being added to the Cardinals’ roster. And when Craig was added, bringing up California’s total to eight, Florida dropped from eight to seven because the player that came off the Cardinals’ roster was Florida product Adron Chambers.
Craig has been out with an injured foot but with the designated hitter being used for possibly four games in the World Series he should be good to go. Craig is from Chaparral of Temecula and was a key player when St. Louis won the World Series two years ago.