Former FIU and current High Desert Mavericks outfielder James McOwen is streaking having now recorded a hit in 45 consecutive games and owns the longest hitting streak in minor league baseball history since 1954.
The all-time minor league record is a 69-game hitting streak by Joe Wilhoit, an outfielder for the Wichita Jobbers in 1919. Joe DiMaggio is second all-time in the minors with a 61-game hit streak in 1933 for the San Francisco Seals. Mr. Coffee had his major league record 56-game hit streak in 1941.
McOwen was a 6th round draft choice of the Seattle Mariners after his junior season at FIU. He has been playing minor league baseball since then and after a different approach at the plate this season he has been tearing the cover off the ball.
It's been an experience during the past 45 games for McOwen. You can check out a story on McOwen and his streak in Saturday's Miami Herald. Until then you can read on about what McOwen thinks of the past 45 games. Had a phone conversation with the player who owns the third highest career batting average (.372) at FIU.
I remember at FIU you were pretty much a low-key type of player. When did you first become aware of the streak and how have you been handling the streak?
JM: At 14 games, a reporter mentioned to me I had a hitting streak going. But for like the first 15 or 16 games nobody on the team really talked about it. I’ve always been a person that tries not to let too much get to me, especially with this game where you fail so much. I just try to play up to my potential. I really don’t care about jinxes and superstitions. My teammates were the ones that were saying how hot I was at the plate.
What has been the craziest thing about the streak so far?
JM: Craziest thing is that I have gotten a hit in my last at-bat like five or six times [seven after Tuesday's game]. A lot of the credit for me getting last chances late in games has to go to my teammates. My teammates have helped me out a lot. Like Monday night’s game they got me 5 at-bats. I went 0 for 2 against the starting pitcher, who was real tough on me, but my teammates hit well enough off of him to knock him out of the game. They brought in a reliever and I hit a home run off the reliever to keep the streak alive.
JM: The most nerve wracking thing about the streak was being on ESPN. I was on the show 1st Take and even though it was just a phone interview it was live on TV. I got a little rattled. I got through it. I kind of stuttered a little bit in the beginning.
Has there been a moment that has hit you about what you are doing at the plate?
JM: Probably, breaking the California League hitting streak record. They stopped the game, gave me the ball and announced it to the entire stadium. That was pretty neat.
What's the dugout like during these games and in particular your at-bats?
JM: There is no pressure on the team or myself. My teammates are always joking around during games. There is nothing off limits when it comes to the streak. In a game that came close to ending the streak in Stockton, in my last at-bat some of the guys on my team joked with me before I went to the plate saying “Hey, is that the right bat?” or “That’s not the bat you want to use against this pitcher”. I went up to the plate and got a hit to keep the streak going. Nobody on my team has gotten superstitious over it, There are no rally caps or anything like that when I am up at the plate.
What have you done differently at the plate to go from being a career .260 hitter to hitting .353 this season?
JM: My hitting coach Tommy Cruz really got me going. Tommy doesn’t allow me any wasted movement in the batter’s box. Before the streak started he told me to widen my stance and keep my hands still, because you can mess stuff up with movement. The new stance also allows me to be on time to the ball.
What's the weirdest thing an opposing team has done or said to you to try and snap the streak?
JM: Heading to the batting cages before a game against Rancho Cucamonga, the opposing pitching coach was standing outside of the bullpen with his pitchers and said to me: “We got a bounty hunt for whoever ends your streak. That pitcher is going to get some extra money for stopping your streak." I laughed I thought it was funny.
Got some FIU football on deck here on the GPP. Going to have strength coach Rod Moore visit here to talk about the Panthers off-season. Here's a preview: on his first day lifting as a Panther, freshman linebacker Pooh Bear Mars (right) squatted 515 pounds. Not bad for a freshman. Mars is 1 of 24 new Panthers in school already beginnning preparations for the 2009 season.
SouthPaw: Pete, I read in a pre-season review of FIU football that Chris Cook is expected to come back next season. Can you validate that, and also give us an update on the status of Carlos Munera?
PP: Cook is not expected back. Munera is still waiting to hear from the NCAA if they will grant him a medical redshirt.
FIUJM: Pete, when fall practice begins...do you think they'll be open to public?
Pete, what have you heard about Freddy situation? Barry Jackson had a little section about it today, but like always he always gets one side of the story.
PP: MC has said before that there will be some practices open to the public. Which ones and what dates? Stay tuned. Will let you know when I know.
FA is not coming back. Barry didn't write the real reason why this whole soap opera started: FA's handler was trying to force one of his assistant coaches on to IT's staff and IT does not play that game. So when IT said no, then all of the sudden FA felt a loyalty toward SR and he didn't want to play for a new coach. But he would be playing for a new coach wherever he lands. Like I mentioned in previous posts, let's just bury this already and move forward. This novela is not worth anymore space in cyberspace.
FIU Fanatic: Pete, a question....would you be able to know/post statistics...perhaps from the Spring...or perhaps early Summer...as to the players lifting weights, jumping abilities, running the 40 yard dash, etc?
PP: Will be meeting with strength coach Rod Moore in the next couple of days to have some updates on the off-season conditioning program.
That patio looks super pimp. What does it take for us to catch a game from there?
PP: Like Dorothy (left) once said: "There's no place like home". The reason there are series with UCF & Louisville is because they are home-and-home games for FIU. The Panthers will play 2 games away against each of those schools and 2 games at FIU Stadium vs. each of those schools. FIU is the only Sun Belt school that will play home-and-home series with BCS and other non-conference teams. For more on this: CLICK HERE *Note: the link for the blog in the previous sentence does not include Rutgers playing at FIU in next season's home opener.
The patio is expected to be used on game days for hosting recruits and donors.
OC Panther: Pete whats the highest ranked high school star UM has ever recruited?
PP: With no disrespect toward you OC Panther, this is an FIU blog. Who cares about the history over in Coral Gables. FIU is making history right now. Enjoy it.