Exclusives: The Varsity Typewriter
PAW web exclusive column by Patrick Sullivan '02 (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Boran 02 the scholar-athlete
Watching the shortstop in action is inspiration
By Patrick Sullivan '02
Its not every Princeton senior who can say that hell
one day receive free Cleveland Indians tickets.
Then again, most seniors havent lived with Patrick Boran for
two years, as I have. Boran is the senior from Pottsville, Pennsylvania,
who plays shortstop on the baseball team, and is the only Tiger
being scouted by major league teams. Fifteen of them, to be exact.
Professional scouts have followed the unassuming 6-foot, 2-inch,
200-pound pitcher-made-shortstop since high school, where as a senior,
he recorded an unblemished 13-0 season. Though heavily recruited
by Princeton baseball coach Scott Bradley, Boran knew it wouldnt
be easy to earn a starting job on the "bump," especially
with Chris Young 02 as the other top Tiger freshman prospect
(Young signed a $1.65 million contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates
after his sophomore season). When Bradley offered to start him at
shortstop, Boran readily made the move to the in-field and hasnt
His stats tell part of the story. Last season, Boran (now the teams
captain) led the Tigers who won the Ivy League championship
and almost pulled off an amazing first-round upset at the NCAA College
World Series in seven categories: runs scored, doubles, hits,
stolen bases, assists, and games played. He also claimed the second-best
batting average among starters (.355) and was second on the team
in fielding double plays. For his efforts he earned a second-team
All-Ivy and first team All-State selections.
However, as anybody will tell you, stats dont make the man.
As the roommate and neighbor of Borans for two years, Ive
observed his indomitable work ethic and commitment, the never-say-die
attitude he applies to both to baseball and academics.
The small, oddly shaped dorm room seems a shrine to his sport A
sign on one wall in his room reads "All Baseball, All the Time."
Pictures of his favorite players adorn another wall (shortstop Christian
Guzman of the Minnesota Twins is his favorite), while another wall
displays the two championship banners from Princetons back-to-back
league titles in 2000 and 2001. A collection of bats lies propped
in the corner.
Borans determination manifests itself in many ways, on and
off the field. His friends jokingly refer to him as the "perfect
human specimen." Its not his obsession with working out
or his negligible body fat. Its not even his team-best 6.57-second
60 time or his old-school, flawless baseball swing that earned him
this moniker. Rather, it is the attitude of competitiveness and
drive with which Boran approaches every part of his day from
plugging away on his thesis to playing pick-up at the gym.
After track practice my sophomore year, Id return to our room,
regularly exhausted from a brutal workout. Often Boran would walk
back from his practice with me. Id collapse on the sofa and
stare mindlessly at TV; hed do sit-ups. During midterms, my
five other roommates and I would be up late, stressing about our
incomplete take-home essays. Hed be asleep, having finished
his work while we took hourly breaks to play "Bond" on
When the seven of us played intramural basketball, Boran proved
to be our teams best player laying aside his natural
athleticism or his ability to effortlessly dunk, wed win because
he scrapped for every rebound, throwing his body around like his
team was down two points in a Final Four thriller. Our offensive
attack seemed ridiculous to our opponents: Wed take a shot
and if it didnt go in, chances were strong that hed
grab the rebound and clean up our mess. He became the proverbial
"Garbage Collector" of our muckraker squad.
Living with Boran forced me to be more focused and committed, both
to my running and my schoolwork, if only out of intense jealousy.
Even before he knew that the teams scouting him actually possessed
sustained interest, he gave 100-percent effort at every game and
practice. During one particular game last year, he went 3-4 with
a double and a two-run homerun. On defense, he performed aerial
acrobatics, successfully turning a one-two double play by throwing
the runner out at first with an off-balanced, mid-air throw. Laser-guided
precision comes to mind. Later in the game, he committed one error,
bobbing a grounder. Even from my position in the bleachers, I could
tell that he was furious with himself.
After the game I asked him how he thought hed played. "Crappy,"
came the abrupt reply. "There were Mets scouts in the stands
today I totally screwed up." How many players go 3-4
with a two-run home run, a double, gravity-defying catches and call
their effort "crappy?" For him, one error is one too many.
For all that, Boran is no perfectionist in fact, hes
realistic. His mindset, though focused, remains reasonable. Even
with teams actively courting him the Mets, Braves, Rockies,
and most of all the Indians have consistently returned to watch
him play his baseball future is far from assured. He hopes
to go in the top 25 rounds (there are 50 rounds in the annual Major
League draft), but when I asked him where he hoped to go in the
draft, he wouldnt say. "I never set numerical goals,"
he told me. "Ill just do the best I can."
Perhaps more so than any other sport with farm franchises, substantial
differences exist between major and minor-league baseball. A talented
high school basketball player with a solid physique can make it
in the NBA everybody must put the ball through the same hoop.
Baseball is different. Facing a 92-m.p.h. pitch versus a 100-m.p.h.-plus
rocket separates the men from the boys, which is why almost every
college player drafted by MLB starts out in A-Ball or Rookie Ball
and must slowly climb the ranks to Double-A and Triple-A before
ever seeing the inside of a Major League ballpark. Even Chris Young
02, a 6-foot, 10-inch pitcher with a Randy Johnson-esque fastball
and a lucrative contract, must bide his time in the farm system.
When scouts talk with Boran, one of the first questions they ask
is whether he is prepared to make the necessary time commitment
in the minor leagues. Many professional teams hesitate to gamble
on a player like Boran, fearful that an intelligent athlete with
an Ivy League degree might grow frustrated with the abysmal salary
and slow advance, instead choosing to scrap baseball in favor of
a more lucrative profession.
Boran knows that he must continually re-prove and improve
his baseball skills if he hopes to play in the big leagues.
Personally, I have little doubt that given his bullish effort and
determination, this talented shortstop one day will realize his
Consider my column a direct contradiction to the naysay-ers who
criticize scholar-athletes Patrick Boran epitomizes the dedicated
drive needed to compete at the highest level. His is an effort that
encompasses much more than baseball.
More important, if Boran ever reads this column, he should know
that Ill one day expect to receive my Cleveland Indians tickets.
Third-base line, first row, please.
can reach Patrick Sullivan at email@example.com.