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 > Little League Online > Media > Little League News Archive > 2011 > January-April > Drive, Determination & Destiny: World Champion Cody Ross Decided in Little League Being a Big Leaguer Was His Calling

Drive, Determination & Destiny: World Champion Cody Ross Decided in Little League Being a Big Leaguer Was His Calling

Drive, Determination & Destiny: World Champion Cody Ross Decided in Little League Being a Big Leaguer Was His Calling

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Nicknamed “Smiles,” Cody Ross, outfielder for the World Champion San Francisco Giants, did his clutch-best to turn playoff smiles upside down for all of the Giants’ opponents throughout the 2010 Major League Baseball postseason.

The 5-foot-10, 190-pounder is diminutive in stature by Major League Baseball’s standards, but since his days as a Little Leaguer in Allen, Texas, confidence, determination and a love of competition have driven him to excel.

“Everything a Little League player dreams of happened for Cody at the end of last season,” Cody’s father, Kenny Ross, said. “It was a dream come true for him to be a postseason MVP and win a World Series, but for us what he did was no surprise. He’s always done well when the pressure is on … Its part of his make-up.”

During San Francisco’s championship run, capped by a five-game triumph over the American League Champion Texas Rangers in the 2010 Fall Classic, Cody served as the Giants’ killer bat in the middle of the lineup. Hitting .294, with slugging percentage of .686, he collected 15 hits, highlighted by five doubles and five home runs in 51 at-bats.

A waiver wire acquisition from the Florida Marlins, Cody totaled 35 bases and 10 RBI in three playoff series. He was so hot in the National League Championship Series – three home runs, three doubles; 19 total bases and a .350 batting average – Cody was named NLCS Most Valuable Player as the Giants defeated the National League Eastern Division champion Philadelphia Phillies for the National League pennant.

“Cody has always been for the underdog, but he’s always had a natural talent for athletics,” Mr. Ross, a former Little Leaguer himself while growing up in Carlsbad, N.M., said. “We never had to make him do anything. Cody was good at basketball, soccer and football, but he seemed naturally drawn to baseball from the time he started playing tee ball when he was five years old.

“You can’t beat Little League, and I helped coach him until he was 10, then I became a fan,” Mr. Ross, whose Little League team was the Giants, said. “His mother and I always wanted to support him. Janet was his biggest fan, and took him all over the place.”

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Cody Ross, outfielder for the 2010 Major League Baseball World Champion San Francisco Giants, has enjoyed a love of the game ever since he was a Little Leaguer. The National League Championship Series MVP, will be starting his first full season with the Giants in 2011.

Cody’s family moved from Allen to Carlsbad when he was in eighth grade, but the move did not slow his progression as a ballplayer. Agile and coordinated, Cody played shortstop, catcher and centerfield despite being a natural left-hander.

During his high school years, baseball was foremost in Cody’s mind, and success on the diamond followed. Described by his dad as a good student, Cody was equally motivated to excel in the classroom. He graduated from Carlsbad High School with a 3.5 grade point average, but college was not in his immediate future.

In 1999, the stout slugger was selected as a Baseball America High School All-American (.525 batting average; 12 home runs; 45 runs batting in; 15 stolen bases). He also pitched throughout his prep career, highlighted by a perfect game.

“I knew he really wanted to play pro baseball,” Mr. Ross said. “When he was drafted by the Detroit Tigers out of high school there was no doubt in my mind he’d sign. When he went to Lakeland, Fla., for his first spring training, he looked out on the field and saw a whole bunch of Cody Ross’s out there.”

Despite not being the standout anymore, Mr. Ross said he did not have to pump up Cody’s confidence. Like he had learned during his time in Little League, and would show throughout his time in the Majors, perseverance and an innate sense of self-worth pushed Cody to work hard and play the game with integrity.

“Cody has had to fight and scratch for everything he’s gotten, and he always known he would be ready to take advantage of his opportunities,” Mr. Ross said. “I never had the conversation with him about getting knocked down. He just knew what he had to do and went and did it.”

Making his Major League debut with the Tigers on July 4, 2003, Cody’s first call-up was a short one, yet he had a feeling that he would have another opportunity with the big club.

By the 2005 season, Cody was back in the Majors, but on the move, beginning with his trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Seeing time in 115 games over two seasons in LA was enough of a résumé builder that he was traded to Cincinnati. Cody was with the Reds for just a month before he was shipped to Florida, where he thought he had finally found a home.

“He was in a swirl, but not one time did he whine or call me up and cry on my shoulder” Mr. Ross said of the cross-country trek his son experienced on his way to Miami. “He finally got a shot with the Marlins and developed a comfort zone.”

Cody spent nearly four seasons with the Marlins before his fateful move to San Francisco. In his last full season in Florida, Cody set personal single-season highs in nearly every offensive category, including doubles (37), home runs (24) and runs batted in (90).

In 2009, Cody tied the Marlins’ franchise season record by hitting three grand slams. Impressive home runs have dotted his prep and professional careers, highlighted by his first big league big fly, which was a grand slam off of then-Cleveland Indians’ ace Cliff Lee in 2004.

“Last summer, when the Marlins put Cody on waivers it made him mad and hurt his feelings,” Mr. Ross said. “He didn’t want to leave Florida, and the Giants only picked him up to block the San Diego Padres from claiming him. As it worked out, going to San Francisco was the best thing to happen to him.”

Cody, who turned 30 on Dec. 23, 2010, lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., with his wife, Summer; son, Hudson (4); and daughter, Haven (1).

“Cody loves playing the game and is returning to the Giants in 2011,” Mr. Ross said. “A lot of people don’t understand the grind of a 162-game schedule. Still, Cody can’t wait to get to the ballpark. He hopes to play 10 more years, but he doesn’t want to hang around too long.”

 

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Cody Ross got hot at the right time for the Giants. His performance in the NLCS propelled San Francisco to the National League pennant and into the World Series. The Giants defeated the American League Champion Texas Rangers, in five games to win the World Championship for the first time since 1954.