After a Year of Pro Ball, Jeremy Burchett Now Pitches for Google
BY Ryan Gorcey
Daily Cal Staff Writer
Monday, June 18, 2007
Type Jeremy Burchett into the Google search page. The first 10 pages you get tell his baseball past, from his official bio page on http://www.calbears.cstv.com
, to stories from this very paper on his time with the Cal baseball team, to news of his being drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in 2006. But what the search results won’t show is that the former Bears relief pitcher, is now an employee of the very same internet powerhouse search engine.
Following his first minor league season, Burchett was disenchanted with the professional game, and considered leaving the baseball world behind.
On one hand, he had just completed a fine season, going a combined 3-2 with a 2.25 ERA in 16 appearances for the rookie-league Billings Mustangs of the Pioneer League and the Gulf Coast Redsox of the Gulf Coast League.
On the other hand, he had an offer in front of him from one of the most lucrative online companies in the world. The former Cal baseball player could either keep pitching, or sign on with a company started by two Stanford grads—Google, Inc.
“I wanted to give pro ball at least a year so I could evaluate it and I was thinking that maybe if I could get a spark of interest or something would click with one of the coaches, but it just turned out that Google was just a better fit,” says Burchett.
Burchett started his baseball life as an outfielder. In his first three years for the Bears, he hit .258 overall, but showed promise in his junior season, batting .266 in 25 games with two home runs and 10 RBI.
Up to that point, he had seen limited action out of the bullpen, posting a 8.25 ERA. But his live arm prompted Cal coach David Esquer to take a risk and move Burchett to the hill full-time. In his senior year, Burchett proved the decision a sound one, checking in with a 3.19 ERA in 23 games and tossing 31 innings for the Bears.
His performance was enough to earn him a ninth-round selection by the Reds as part of Cal’s biggest baseball draft class ever, which saw seven Bears inked to pro contracts.
“I was a little surprised at how much less they offered me compared to other ninth-rounders, probably the reason being that I was a senior,” says Burchett. “I wasn’t really in any kind of position of power. You can’t really blame them, because there was no leverage there, but I did feel like I was taken advantage of a little bit.”
Despite Burchett’s superb numbers and a 16-inning scoreless streak early in the year, something didn’t feel right.
“A lot of people say that the time to take risks in your life is early on and the time to pursue your dreams is early on in your life and when it gets down to it, I just wasn’t happy playing anymore,” says Burchett. “It really didn’t matter that (a career in baseball) was risky so much as it was that I just wasn’t happy.”
The year that he spent in the minor leagues wore on Burchett, and on the heels of his best year yet, he began to consider his options.
“You play every day and you’re on the bus a lot and you’re living out of a hotel, not making a whole lot of money,” says Burchett. “A lot of people look at this time as like a sacrifice until you get to the ultimate goal, which is the major leagues, which was my ultimate goal. But things can change over time and I was just ready for a change.”
As much as he loved baseball, it had ceased to be a game and became a job.
“Once it gets businesslike, and everything is outcome-oriented, it’s no longer fun at that point,” says Burchett.
When Burchett came back to Cal to finish his degree in the fall, he caught up with a former classmate, sophomore Kenny Mendes. He told Mendes that he was contemplating giving up the game, and Mendes, himself quite a baseball fan, made a wager.
“I had recently gotten into (golf), and we were talking about going to the driving range and we got on the topic of my situation, and he was really interested and he’s asking me if I was going to go back to baseball because he knew about the Google offer,” says Burchett. “I was just like, ‘I’m not really sure at this point, but my gut says that I’m going to take the Google job.’ There was a little implied wager there, that if I did end up taking the Google job, there would be a couple rounds on him on the links.”
With several other offers on the table, Burchett had his pick of futures more secure than one depending on the ligaments in his shoulder.
“I was ready to walk away from baseball even before I knew of any offer from Google,” says Burchett, “but it certainly did help me go in that direction.”
The former hurler decided to take Mendes’ wager, and now is making recruitment pitches to software engineers to work for Google. As a contract employee, he makes more than his full-time counterparts (though doesn’t have their stock options) and he still has those rounds of golf on Mendes’ tab.
“We actually haven’t gotten around to doing it, but we went to the range (Sunday) and we’re scheduled to hit the links sometime in the next two weeks,” chuckles Burchett.
Despite the brevity of his professional career, Burchett can at least say that he left on his own terms, before the pro game could taint his love for the sport. Now, instead of toiling in the minor leagues, riding on broken down buses and staying in midwestern half-star motels, he has time to enjoy the little things in life, like golf. And if his passion in his recreational softball league is any indication, he still has plenty of love for the game of baseball.
“My passion for baseball has not dropped off at all,” says Burchett. “I’m playing in a recreational softball league right now, and I will always have some affiliation with the game. That will always be the case.”
Contact Ryan Gorcey at firstname.lastname@example.org