Washington Nationals' Drew Storen will go from pitching mound to Stanford classes as soon as season ends

Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, September 19, 2010; 12:42 AM

On the first Sunday in October, the Washington Nationals' season will end and Drew Storen's college life will restart. As his teammates scatter for the offseason, Storen will hitch a ride straight from New York's Citi Field to John F. Kennedy International Airport in time to board Virgin America Flight 29 at 7 p.m., one way to San Francisco.

Storen will drive from the San Francisco airport to his apartment on the campus of Stanford University - his roommate has already picked up his key for him. By Monday morning, less than 24 hours after the final out of the season - which he may very well record himself - Storen will settle into his seat for Physics 41.

Storen is returning to college to pursue an achievement uncommon among major league baseball players: a degree from a four-year university.

He left school after his sophomore season to enter last year's draft and still has six quarters separating him from his diploma in product design. Starting in two weeks, Storen will finish one of them while cherishing the college experience not as a student-athlete, but just a student.

"I've grown up a lot in the past year," Storen said Tuesday, sitting in the Turner Field dugout in Atlanta. "I feel like I'm going back to high school or something - kind of go back to that different attitude. It'll be fun. It's going to be great. I really enjoy the Bay Area. I really enjoy being in school. A lot of my best friends from college are there. Why not go back and chip away at my education?

"Playing baseball is like playing with house money, almost. If it works out and I don't have to work a day in my life, that's great. If not, then I fall back on a Stanford education."

Storen has felt sure, since he started receiving significant recruiting attention in high school and chose Stanford, that he would eventually graduate. Everyone in his family owns a college diploma; his sister is at Johns Hopkins medical school. His parents, Mark and Pam, ingrained in him the importance of having a plan so often that they now laugh about it. Storen's life, his family jokes, has become centered on "The Plan."

"That's what we instilled in him," Pam Storen said. " 'If you're going to do it, let's do it right.' He's always been like that. I thought once he got called up, he wouldn't be as adamant. But he was adamant. That's something he wants to check off his list. He's kind of on a mission."

Initially, Storen was unsure if he'd attend school this offseason or wait. During his sophomore year, Storen roomed with Jack McGeary, the Nationals' farmhand who reached a unique agreement with the team that allowed him to attend Stanford while playing in the minor leagues during summer. At spring training, McGeary asked him, "Are you going to go back to school?"

Storen told McGeary he was thinking about it. By midsummer, he called McGeary and asked whom he needed to speak with in order to sign up for classes. McGeary was happy to have his roommate back, but not surprised.

"I don't think he's the type of guy who's going to start something and let it hang there," McGeary said. "It should be fun as hell."

In a study conducted last year, the Wall Street Journal found only 26 players and managers on major league rosters - 3.3 percent - had graduated from a four-year college. Last week, though, there was Storen in the Nationals' clubhouse, on a laptop registering for classes. He hopes to take 20 credits toward his degree in product design, part of Stanford's mechanical engineering program.

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