Things have been pretty hectic for Danny Ainge over the past few months.
In March, he played in the opening round of the NCAA basketball tournament; April saw him dash off right after final exams at Brigham Young University to join the Class AAA Syracuse Chiefs. Finally, last month, Ainge was brought up by Toronto for his first major league action.
Serving such double athletic duty is nothing strange to Ainge, a three-sport All-America in high school in Eugene, Ore. An NCAA rule allows a college athlete to participate professionally in one sport -- thereby forfeiting future college eligibility -- and, at the same time, remain an amateur in another.
The 6-foot-5 Ainge just completed his sophomore year at BYU where he pumped in 20 points per game [58 percent shooting] for a 20-7 squad. This is his second summer playing pro baseball ater starting at Blue Jay farm affiliate Syracuse in 1978.
"We called Danny up from Syacruse because we weren't happy with our situation at second base," said Blue Jay Manager Roy Hartsfield.
"We always knew he could develop into a fine player if given the chance. He's done a good job, although he's booted a few [five errors].
"But Danny has yet to participate in spring practice. He's come along very well considering that fact. For a youngster who hasn't played much, he's usually in the right place at the right time."
The 20-year-old, who was drafted by the Blue Jays as a high school senior, has hit at a .276 clip -- second best on the club -- has seven extra-base bits among his 39 hits in 39 games and struck out 24 times in his first 141 atbats.
Ainge will have only until the end of August to get more accustomed to American League pitching, since he will cut his season short to return to BYU for his junior year. A public relations major, he plans to finish college despite the tempting prospect of a full-time major league spot.
"Basketball is my first love," he said. "Right now, I can play both baseball and basketball but, if I had to decide on one oe the other, it would be basketball."
However, Ainge reluctantly added that his decision to cut short the season and return to BYU was easier to make because the cellar-dwelling Blue Jays are not likely to be in the pennant race as the season winds down.
Ainge has not yet decide which sport he will choose to pursue after college. It is possible that he could play both professionally, as did former New York Knick and Chicago White Sox Dave Debusschere.
"That's a decision Danny's going to make himself," Hartsfield said."He's very much his own man. We are very aware of his abilities as a basketball player. The Blue Jays are not about to try and influence him to concentrate on baseball."
Ainge added, "They [Toronto] just want me to play and are making things as pleasant for me as possible. I've played more than one sport all my life." Ainge even finds time to go out on the golf course and shoot in the low 80s.
But right now, the man for all seasons has baseball on his mind.
"As the season goes on, I'll get better and better," Ainge said. "With more experience, I'll learn how to hit opposing pitchers."
Until then, Ainge will keep Toronto guessing, Brigham Young Basketball Association on the watch.