Patterico's Pontifications


Naturally Gavin Newsom Has Been Fibbing about His College Baseball Career

Filed under: General — JVW @ 7:07 am

[guest post by JVW]

This story is one week old; somehow I missed it when it was published in CalMatters last Thursday. I heard about it today on the wonderful “Radio Free California” podcast and found the story too insightful not to share it with everyone. As usual, bolded emphasis comes from me:

For their 2004 home opener, the San Francisco Giants invited a special guest to throw the ceremonial first pitch: Gavin Newsom, then just a few months into his first term as mayor of San Francisco.

As Newsom took the pitcher’s mound, wearing dress shoes and a button-down shirt underneath his custom Giants jersey, the announcer informed the crowd that “he played first base for the University of Santa Clara and was drafted by the Texas Rangers.”

The introduction was quickly overshadowed by Newsom nearly hitting a photographer with the ball. But it left a lasting impact on a few attendees that day — a group of former Santa Clara University baseball players who were struck by the glowing treatment of Newsom’s resume.

“It’s kind of the standing joke that Newsom played on the team,” said Vince Machi, who arrived at Santa Clara in 1985, the same year as Newsom, and played baseball for three years. “There’s always been kind of a joke between the guys who stay in touch.”

[. . .]

Through his rise over the intervening two decades, his baseball career has provided Newsom a triumphant narrative to push back on the perception that his upbringing was privileged and easy: The high school standout scouted by the major leagues, who overcame his dyslexia and academic shortcomings to earn a partial scholarship to Santa Clara University before an injury forced him to find a new purpose.

[. . .]

Newsom told the story himself again in January on the podcast Pod Save America: Because of poor test scores, he was headed to community college until he got a call from the Santa Clara University baseball coaches. “It was literally the ticket to a four-year university. It changed my life, my trajectory,” he said.

But former coaches and teammates said that biography, repeated again and again through interviews and glossy magazine profiles and coverage of his 2021 baseball-themed children’s book on overcoming dyslexia, has inflated Newsom’s baseball credentials, giving the impression that he was a more accomplished player than he was.

Most notably, Newsom never played an official game for Santa Clara University; he was a junior varsity recruit who played only during the fall tryouts his freshman and sophomore years, then left the baseball program before the regular season began. He does not appear on the Broncos’ all-time roster or in media guides published by the athletic department to preview the upcoming season.

Gavin Newsom is a liar about things both great and small. He is, I will remind you, a man who claimed to have gone into alcohol rehabilitation when his first marriage floundered in the aftermath of reports of his infidelity, only to later acknowledge that he had not actually checked into a rehab facility and remained a social drinker. He is the poster boy for the do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do stereotype of obnoxious politician, repeatedly being discovered engaging in actions he has otherwise denounced. And of course, contrary to his stories of being raised by a single mom (after she and his father divorced) and barely being able to make ends meet, we hear a story about how he really managed to get into Santa Clara University despite a mediocre academic record (spoiler alert: it likely was not for his prowess as a ballplayer):

A deeper look at his recruitment also reveals that Newsom’s admission to Santa Clara University — like so many of his formative opportunities — was substantially boosted by friends and acquaintances of his father, William Newsom, a San Francisco judge and financial adviser to the Gettys, the wealthy oil family. One associate connected Newsom to the baseball program when he was in high school, while his father’s best friend, then a member of the university’s board of regents, wrote him a letter of recommendation.

The man is the walking, talking embodiment of the “privileged white male” whom progressives (especially feminists and the racial grievances crowd) are forever demonizing. Only Gavin actually deserves it. And his “ex-teammates” — or, you know, the guys with whom he attended a few practices and perhaps played a few scrimmage games — have a none-too-forgiving view of the governor’s decades-long habit of allowing his baseball history to be so grossly inflated:

Some Broncos players from the era, who said they still regularly get asked about Newsom when people find out they played baseball at Santa Clara, wanted to correct the record.

“He didn’t earn it. He didn’t earn the right to say it,” said Kevin Schneider, who pitched for two seasons and now runs a pitching academy in San Francisco. “I worked my ass off. So did everyone else on that team. For him to just go all these years, to say he did something he didn’t that takes not just talent but also dedication and effort and sacrifice, it’s not right.”

The story goes on with more detail about young Gavin’s high school baseball career. He was likely “scouted” by some Bay Area baseball talent evaluators who scouted hundreds of kids throughout Northern California each year, but was nowhere talented enough to be drafted or signed as a free agent straight out of high school. The story of his acceptance to SCU weaves between the coaching staff’s very moderate interest in him as an athlete and the important people who contacted the university on the boy’s behalf with letters of recommendation, including ex- and future-governor Jerry Brown and Newsom Family friend John Mallen, who just so happened to be on the Board of Regents of the university. Another family friend, investment banker and former SCU ballplayer Bill Connolly is thought to be the person who first contacted the coaching staff and encouraged them to recruit the Redwood City high schooler. Mr. Connolly just so happened to be a major financial supporter of SCU baseball, which may have helped Gavin secure a $500 athletic scholarship.

Read the whole story if so inclined. The governor has for years refused any and all requests to talk in detail about his baseball past, and his press agents repeatedly claim that their boss has consistently been truthful about his playing days (he hasn’t), that he was a legitimate recruit (he might have been, but 13 freshmen were on the roster for SCU in the 1985-86 season and none of them were named Gavin Newsom), and that any misconceptions about the length and breadth of the governor’s baseball career at SCU is somebody else’s mistake, but not theirs. In that latter claim, Team Newsom uses the same excuse that Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut trotted out to explain away how he managed to build a political career being described as “a Vietnam War combat veteran” when his whole military service had been performed statewide: somebody else said it, and I just never corrected the record.

Actually, the story as told by CalMatters suggests a lot which comports with what we know about Gavin Newsom’s character. At least one former SCU ballplayer of that era remembers Newsom as a fairly gifted athlete, but one who didn’t really seem to apply himself to the rigor of NCAA athletics, hoping instead to get by on natural ability and luck. Newsom would undergo ulnar nerve surgery in the fall of 1985, yet for whatever reason didn’t bother to rehabilitate his arm under the supervision of the SCU training staff or coaches, which suggests he was already disassociating from the team. Perhaps he determined that the grind of college athletics was just too much in those days before the NCAA placed limits on the amount of practice time to which athletes could be subjected. But if that’s the case then he’s been dishonest for years in claiming that the end of his baseball career was traumatic and left him lacking a sense of purpose.

Either way, it’s an interesting story and continues to paint a picture of a person who places far more stock in being somebody than in doing something. In our messed up times a chronic narcissist like him will probably eventually end up in the White House, perhaps sooner rather than later.


27 Responses to “Naturally Gavin Newsom Has Been Fibbing about His College Baseball Career”

  1. But at least he was drafted by the Texas Rangers, right?

    Kevin M (a9545f)

  2. I knew a less than mediocre baseball playing small private college guy who was drafted by a MLB team in the last round because the kids dad was a friend of the owner of the team. It always seemed like a weird gift/strange ask but later realized it was probably both of the above and resume padding. To the kids credit, he found the whole thing embarrassing

    steveg (478c0d)

  3. In Newsom’s favor, baseball language speaks about appearances- I guess because it is possible to appear in a game and have no stats, sorta like when Newsom was Lt. Governor of CA

    steveg (478c0d)

  4. An “empty uniform” to coin a phrase.

    Kevin M (a9545f)

  5. Why, oh why, would someone lie about something so easily checked?

    Oh, wait. Our President has been doing that for literally decades.

    My head is in my hands.

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  6. Our Presidents have been doing that for literally decades.


    Kevin M (a9545f)

  7. somebody else said it, and I just never corrected the record.

    Like the blurb on Obama’s book that claimed he was Nigerian. An oversight.

    Kevin M (a9545f)

  8. I knew a less than mediocre baseball playing small private college guy who was drafted by a MLB team in the last round because the kids dad was a friend of the owner of the team.

    You know that Mike Piazza was drafted by the Dodgers in the 62nd round (the baseball draft now only has 20 rounds) just because his dad was friends with Tommy Lasorda? That worked out pretty well for all concerned.

    JVW (cf157a)

  9. Here’s another try at this comment as in the first, I used some, ahem, *adult language*…

    I gotta admit that the more I learn about the Dodgers, the less I like them and their organization.

    Anyone else read about the absolute pittance that they offered the woman who caught Ohtani’s home run ball? On top of that, Ohtani refused to meet with her. I’d think that for $700 million the cheating (and obviously gambling, although of course everyone is so [ahem] busy running excuses for him) [nasty s-word] could be bothered to meet with one fan for 10 minutes.

    qdpsteve again (4f177a)

  10. Maybe Gavin Newsome talks so much about his baseball prospects because the truth of what happened with his college admission resembles more the Varsity Blues scandal (although there it was appearing to rank high in an obscure sport.)

    That is, maybe something more happened than merely letters of recommendation sent by friends of is father. Maybe somebody was <b< bribed or lies were told. So Gavin Newsome has got to make his baseball prospects look more serious than they were to avoid generating any suspicion.


    Sammy FInkelman (1d215a)

  11. This baseball story doesn’t surprise me in the least. It has a Bidenesque quality about it. And it’s not just that both men have told tall tales about their past. These two are also similar in that they comport / have comported themselves as if they’re smarter than they really are. This was especially true when Biden was younger.

    norcal (d00264)

  12. Not a Newsom fan in any respect but after reading the full story he doesn’t look all that bad. He was a talented first baseman — apparently an all-star in his high school league — who had a chance to earn playing time in college. But he got hurt and ended up not putting in the effort he would have needed in training or rehab to have a realistic shot at making the team and gave up the sport. So he was guilty, maybe, of being an immature 19- or 20-year-old which would mean he was like millions of other guys. Maybe he’s let people puff up his baseball “career” too much but the quotes actually attributed to him put him way below the Biden fabulist level.

    Don’t want to take this analogy too far, as Newsom is not evil, just way wrong about a lot of things, but imagine how different Cuba might have been if the Dodgers or Yankees (or whichever team it supposedly was) had signed that young fireball of a pitching prospect Fidel Castro to a pro contract back in the ’50s when he tried out. If only Newsom hadn’t gotten hurt, maybe he could have played in the majors and not gone into politics, and CA might be a better state today.

    RL formerly in Glendale (7a2d64)

  13. But he got hurt and ended up not putting in the effort he would have needed in training or rehab to have a realistic shot at making the team and gave up the sport.

    Yeah, I made that point in the post. But what I don’t get is that Newsom has created this story where baseball was his saving grace, what took him out of the ghetto (of his own mind), what brought him to the lush lawns of Santa Clara University (never mind the letters of recommendation from his daddy’s well-heeled friends), and what made him believe he belonged. He has on several occasions told the story about how bereft of meaning his college life was once baseball was taken away, and what a hard adjustment he had to make in his post-athletic life.

    Yet we come to find out that he clearly was not devoted enough to the sport to allow the athletic training staff to oversee his rehab, and presumably when he reported back to practice for a brief period his sophomore year he hadn’t really prepared himself for the rigors of a Division I varsity season. No sin in that. But all of his fibs and exaggerations have been carefully concocted to hide the real truth, which is that Gavin Newsom was admitted to SCU with low test scores and (presumably) mediocre grades because he had wealthy and powerful friends watching out for him. In many ways, he was a precursor to the Varsity Blues hordes. That is how I am going to view him.

    JVW (1c730b)

  14. Whoops, Sammy, I failed to see that you had made reference to the Varsity Blues scandal already. Great minds think alike and all.

    JVW (7c38b8)

  15. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again:

    Conservative activists are launching another attempt to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom, seeking to capitalize on anger over the state’s yawning budget deficit and arguing that the top White House surrogate must be stopped before he can make a presidential run of his own.
    Newsom, unchecked by campaign donation limits and fortified by nearly $75 million in spending from his committees and allies, beat back the prior recall that made it onto the ballot in 2021 and was organized by some of the same activists. Newsom cruised over Republican talk-radio host Larry Elder, who faced an onslaught of criticism, even from among the recall’s own organizers, over differences in message and strategy. At least five other Newsom recalls have been started but did not move forward.
    “Gavin Newsom has abandoned the state to advance his presidential ambitions, leaving behind a $73 billion budget deficit and a public safety, immigration and education crisis,” said Anne Dunsmore, an Orange County fundraiser and the campaign director for Rescue California. She said more than 400 Californians of varying political persuasion have joined together to serve as official proponents of the new recall. That includes others from the last effort such as Orrin Heatlie, the retired county sheriff’s sergeant from Yolo who helped get the ball rolling in 2020.
    A recall that qualifies for the ballot would be another headache for Newsom, but the campaign as it stands in the early stages could prove to be a blessing: It gives Newsom a conservative boogeyman to fundraise against. In 2021 and 2022, he used the recall to build one of the biggest digital fundraising operations in Democratic politics.

    Recall petitions require signatures equal to 12 percent of the turnout in the last election for governor. In this case, that’s roughly 1.38 million signatures, though organizers estimate they would likely need around 1.6 million to account for ones deemed invalid by the secretary of state.

    Rescue California and its partners don’t plan to use the paid signature-gatherers outside shopping centers and big-box stores, a standard practice for qualifying, at least not currently. Instead, they will start off with other methods such as reaching supporters through the mail.
    Organizers have a lower threshold this time, but they would need to move with lightning speed — by sometime in May — to qualify the new recall for the November 2024 ballot. If that doesn’t happen, and they can get the signatures later, an election would be sometime after.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  16. The 2021 Newsom recall effort was defeated with the Yes side receiving 38% of the vote and the No side 62%; Newsom received the same percentage of the vote in his first election in 2018 while his reelection in 2022 was slightly, though not statistically significant, lower (59%). In the recall campaign to replace Newsom (if it was successful) celebrity radio talk show host Larry Elder won 48%, despite claiming in advance counting the votes (and without evidence), that fraud had been detected.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  17. #13.
    Not really disagreeing with you very much but I can see how an 18-year-old who has some decent athletic talent might want to think that it and not his family’s connections got him into college. If I recall correctly a lot of the Varsity Blues kids who got in as athletes weren’t athletes at all, but Newsom was apparently a good ballplayer and it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine a school giving him a partial ride for that. Agree that Newsom sure comes off as a narcissist a lot of the time, but also a lot of guys like to think they were better athletes than they really were, and I don’t fault Newsom much if he’s been telling himself that he was a real star in the making who got in because of that and not because of a favor to Daddy. But maybe you’re right — as a general rule it’s good to be skeptical of anything Newsom says, and perhaps this should not be an exception.

    RL formerly in Glendale (7a2d64)

  18. Here is a short video (less than three minutes) of Adam Carolla interviewing Newsom. All Newsom has are lefty platitudes. He’s so full of himself.

    norcal (031e48)

  19. norcal, I asked Turd this on the previous open thread:

    Turd, in this hypothetical you have only two choices for Governor of your state. One is Gavin Newsom and the other is Donald Trump. There is no third option like Paul’s “cower under Electoral College skirt” humdinger, or any other version of none-of-the-above.

    You must vote for one or the other. Who do you vote for?

    BuDuh (2165ed) — 4/6/2024 @ 10:45 am

    It sent some into misplaced “Logical Fallacy!” short circuiting. IOW, it was maladroit evasiveness of a non-complex hypothetical.

    If I were to present the hypothetical of one spouse hearing the ice cream truck and instructing the other spouse to go to the truck and to come back with a scoop of ice cream for the first spouse; the type isn’t specified. The truck only has Rocky Road and Mint Chocolate Chip but the spouse knows that Vanilla is the preferred ice cream. There are no other options and an ice cream must be brought back. If this were you, would you choose the Rocky Road or the Mint Chocolate Chip?

    I think both this hypothetical and the one I asked Turd should be fairly simple to answer but possibly a little difficult to explain the reasoning.

    How would you answer, norcal?

    BuDuh (cdb64a)

  20. How would you answer, norcal?

    BuDuh (cdb64a) — 4/11/2024 @ 6:57 pm

    Gavin is wrong on many of his policies. Trump is wrong, but in other, more damaging ways.

    Therefore, I would vote for Newsom if I must choose between only the two of them.

    norcal (031e48)

  21. Switch out Trump with Nikki or Ron, and it wouldn’t even be close. I’d vote for Nikki or Ron over Gavin.

    norcal (031e48)

  22. Thanks, norcal.

    BuDuh (cdb64a)

  23. Conservative activists are launching another attempt to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom, seeking to capitalize on anger over the state’s yawning budget deficit and arguing that the top White House surrogate must be stopped before he can make a presidential run of his own.

    Then they’ll push out all contenders and run some slack-jawed flat earth creationist that Trump endorses.

    Kevin M (a9545f)

  24. Then they’ll push out all contenders and run some slack-jawed flat earth creationist that Trump endorses.

    It’s worse than that, guys. A second recall allows Governor Gel to raise uncapped campaign funds to fight against it (remember when the Netflix honcho gave him $3 million to defeat the last recall?) and then when he easily does so he’ll have yet another $30 or $40 million to transfer to his campaign account right next to the $30 million he banked from the last failed recall effort. Imagine it is June 2027 and Greasy Gavin now has $70 million as starting money for a Presidential run. He will hire every single competent Democrat campaign consultant and probably steamroll his way to the nomination. Unless of course California has by then devolved to Lord of the Flies stuff and Newsom has been thrown from Bixby Creek Bridge to the rocks 300 feet below by a mob of jilted CalPers retirees. There’s probably at least a 20% chance of this happening.

    JVW (b02843)

  25. Keep up the good work I want AOC to be the nominee not corporate establishment snowflakes like gavin newsom. Discredit him further.

    asset (2855d2)

  26. Discredit him further.

    It’s like shooting fish in a barrel.

    JVW (b02843)

  27. What a mountain out of molehill.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

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