Paul Goldschmidt said he was unsure of whether he’d reach the big leagues as a minor-leaguer in Mobile, Alabama. So he lined up an internship at Morgan Stanley.
He was promoted to the Arizona Diamondbacks before he took the job, though two years later the one-time college finance major’s interest in business remains steadfast even after becoming an All-Star with a five-year, $32 million contract extension.
“I always said coming up in the minor leagues that if I wanted to make money I would have just went to school and gotten a real job,” Goldschmidt said. “I honestly never thought baseball would be a job I could do that would get me paid.”
Goldschmidt, a 25-year-old first baseman who signed his long-term contract the day before the 2013 season opener, has been mentioned as a possible Most Valuable Player candidate this season. He leads the National League with 77 runs batted in, is fourth with 21 home runs and is ninth with a .319 batting average. He’s on the the NL All-Star team for tonight’s game at Citi Field in New York.
Goldschmidt, who grew up in the Houston area, majored in finance at Texas State University before being drafted by Arizona in 2009. He was playing Double-A ball in Alabama when he set up the internship through Pat Combs, a former Philadelphia Phillies pitcher who’s now a financial adviser. Goldschmidt made his major league debut on Aug. 1, 2011, opting to stay in the Phoenix area after the season.
Combs, who pitched for the Phillies from 1989-92 and has been at Morgan Stanley (MS) since 2005, met Goldschmidt through an acquaintance in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where Goldschmidt’s wife, Amy, grew up. Goldschmidt has wanted to learn about finance since the first day they met, Combs said.
“It’s an open invitation,” said Combs, 46. “I told him any time he was ready to come I’d have a spot for him, to sit next to me and learn the business.”
Goldschmidt said that he still would be interested in an offseason finance training program because his interest in the topic hasn’t waned.
“I’ve been talking to people I know not just in finance but throughout the business world to see if I can do some sort of internship,” Goldschmidt said in an interview while visiting New York for an early-July series against the Mets. “Even if it’s just for a day, to follow someone around in their company or a couple of different divisions over a week, whatever they’ll let me do.”
Goldschmidt was taken in the eighth round of Major League Baseball’s amateur draft and as a minor leaguer wasn’t considered a top-10 Diamondbacks prospect by evaluators such as Baseball America. Combs -- whose office is in the center-field suites at the Texas Rangers’ Ballpark at Arlington -- said Goldschmidt’s humble personality may have worked against him.
“He’s just not the typical guy that has this edge to him,” Combs said. “I’m sure there were some guys who thought he’s just not that serious about the game.”
His success is no surprise to Glenn Tanner, who taught Goldschmidt in two classes at San Marcos-based Texas State. A “phenomenally hard worker,” Goldschmidt finished near the top of his introduction to finance class and was the best student in a class that analyzed real-world financial data, Tanner said in a telephone interview.
The two remained in touch after Goldschmidt was drafted, and when the minor leaguer needed money to pay for his wedding he used Tanner, an associate professor of finance, as a reference.
“You’re going to think I’m exaggerating, but he’s seriously one of the most impressive individuals I’ve met in my entire life,” Tanner said he told the woman who called to check on Goldschmidt’s background. “I would bet you money right now that he’s either going to have a long career in professional baseball or he’s going to be a Fortune 500 executive one day.”
The woman started laughing, telling Tanner that he was the fifth person who had said that about Goldschmidt.
“I’ve been teaching for 15 or 20 years and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody with that kind of drive and work ethic,” Tanner said. “I want to tell my students to be more like Paul Goldschmidt, but it’s like, ‘Gosh, I couldn’t be like that.’”
Goldschmidt, a 6-foot-3, 245-pound right-hander, is completing his degree online at the University of Phoenix while studying opposing pitchers and working on his baseball skills. He has changed his major to a more general management degree to get more credits to transfer, and is scheduled to graduate on Aug. 19.
Joe Buck, who along with Tim McCarver will announce the All-Star Game on News Corp.’s Fox network, said Goldschmidt has a long career ahead of him in baseball.
“You just wouldn’t know that this is one of the rising stars,” Buck said on a conference call with reporters, noting Goldschmidt’s quiet demeanor. “Make no mistake, this is a big force at first base and a big force at the plate, and I think a guy who’s blossoming into one of the toughest outs in baseball.”
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