Los Angeles Angels third baseman Dallas McPherson was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 44th round out of high school but he opted to attend The Citadel. Following his junior year with the Bulldogs, he was selected in the second round by the Anaheim Angels and signed. “Mac” shot through the organization’s farm system after having success at each level. To date, the 6-4/230-pound left-handed hitter has played in 77 major league games, including three more in the post-season. The 26-year old is now married to the former Jennifer Penn of Atlanta, the couple have a dog “Rookie” and live in Chandler, Arizona, the spring training site of the Angels. He has spent the majority of his break rehabbing an injury that ended his 2005 season early. McPherson spoke with Diamond Prospects on his way to take batting practice during the off-season, read his story about debuts, homeruns, the playoffs and rehab.
DP-How did your experience at The Citadel prepare you for professional baseball?
DM-It was very regimented, structured, everyone has their role. Being a rookie with the Angels was like being freshman at The Citadel, it really helped me handle all that a lot better. Just playing college baseball and the entire college experience made me grow up faster.
DP-You were a two-way player in college, when you got to pro ball did you miss pitching?
DM-I never missed pitching. The Braves drafted me out of high school as a pitcher and that was a big reason I didn’t sign, I wanted to hit. My whole life I knew I was a better hitter. In high school I threw hard but in college you’ve actually got to be good at it to have success. I also had some arm problems in college.
DP-The day you got “the call” to the Big Leagues, what was that like for you and who did you call first?
DM-It was pretty much expected. The Triple-A season had just ended and I’d had a very good season. My bags were packed already to either go home or to Anaheim. They called me into the office and told me I was going up…I was very excited. The first people I called were my fiancé at the time, who is now my wife, and my parents.
DP-You got to the Major Leagues quickly and immediately found yourself in the post-season with the Angels, what was that whirlwind like for you?
DM-I spent a year or less at every level and had some success and it did happen fast. Nothing totally prepares you for the Big Leagues. In the minors you ride buses for hours, stay in crappy hotels, always eating on the go, it’s not a bed of roses. Reaching the Majors is the big reward for all that.
DP-Tell about your Big League firsts, your first game, first at bat and first hit:
DM-Of all things I made my debut as a pinch-runner at second base. David Eckstein hit a little blooper behind me in front of the centerfielder. I wasn’t sure it was going to fall or not, I was so scared! I decided to take off, thankfully the ball dropped and I scored, I was so afraid I was going to screw up right off the bat, that would have been a disaster! The game is so fast. My first at bat was against some young reliever from the White Sox, I cannot even remember his name. I do remember who I got my first hit off of, I actually got three that first game I started off of Ryan Franklin (Mariners).
DP-You’ve done something that most left-handed hitters never have or never will, hit a homerun off of Randy Johnson. Tell us what is was like as you got in the box and when you connected:
DM-Well, my first at bat I felt like I was on a Playstation, he made me look silly with three sliders. Before my second at bat, I decided I couldn’t hit his slider so I told myself to lay off of it. The first two pitchers were sliders for balls, now the count was 2-0 and I knew I’d get a fastball. Sure enough, he left a fastball up and I hit it well. My third at bat I got a single off of him and my fourth at bat he hit me. I don’t think it was intentional, it was just a two-seamer that got away. He sent a note over to the clubhouse after the game to let me know he wasn’t throwing at me. I’ll always be able to tell people I was hit by a Randy Johnson fastball.
DP-Following your breakthrough year with the Angels they move World Series MVP Troy Glaus to make room for you, what did that move tell you about the organiztions plans for you?
DM-It said they believed in me, of course I came a lot cheaper price than him!
DP-What are some of your nicknames?
DP-Who are the three toughest pitchers you have faced?
DM-The toughest guy for me to hit has been Jake Westbrook of the Cleveland Indians, I’m 0-for-8, or something like that against him, he’s got a good cutter. The toughest lefty is probably Barry Zito with that big curveball, I’ve only faced him once but he’s pretty tough.
DP-Fill in the blank: With the infield in and you’re at the hot corner, you don’t want blank at the plate:
DM-A-Rod. He pulls everything hard on the ground. You never get a chopper from him, they all have a ton of top spin.
DP-What about Gary Sheffield?
DM-He rolls over a lot of balls and you can get some big hops, not with A-Rod!
DP-Where is your favorite place to play?
DM-Anaheim, great playing surface and hitting background, it’s a beautiful park and my family tells me it is very fan friendly. Now, to walk into Yankee Stadium, I was shaking the first time I played there. The plaques and monuments in the outfield! Then to stand in the same batter’s box as Ruth and Mantle, just everything about it amazing!
DP-What is the biggest crowd you’ve ever performed in front of and where?
DM-I guess Anaheim in the playoffs, upper 50,000 thousand people or so were at the game.
DP-Do you have any good, but clean, locker room or road trip stories?
DP-Do you have any superstitions?
DM-Nope, I’m not a superstitious guy. If I’m hitting good I may keep eating the same lunch until I had a bad game but mainly I just stay with a routine.
DP-Who were the biggest characters you’ve played with?
DM-Brooks Dantzler and Nick Gornault, not because he tried to be funny but he was.
DP-Who was your idol growing up?
DM-First of all, my dad. In baseball, Don Mattingly, Chipper Jones as I got older and Cal Ripken, Jr. I met Mattingly in Yankee Stadium, we were stretching and he was nearby, one of our coaches introduced us, I remember feeling like a kid when we talked.
DP-Who is your favorite athlete (non-baseball)?
DM-Troy Aikman, I got to meet him in Arlington, he threw out the first pitch of a Texas game.
DP-What is your favorite sport to play other than baseball?
DM-Basketball, it’s a lot of fun for me to dunk and to shoot, just real fun to play.
DP-What is your favorite sport to watch other than baseball?
DM-Definitely football. I love tailgating on Saturday’s and Sunday’s and just watching games. Fantasy football makes me really look forward to the weekend!
DP-If you could have dinner with three people in history, who would they be and why?
DM-George Bush, because he’s the president now. “The Rock”, I grew up a wrestling fan and still am. He doesn’t seem like a prick, he’s got a sports background, I just think he’s really interesting. I’d really like to spend a night out in New York with Mickey Mantle and hang out with that guy. I’ve met people who played with him and knew him well. There’s a lot more to him that what the media portrays, I’ve heard some great stories.
DP-Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
DM-Coaching in college. I want to take over a program and do it different than the way most colleges do. I’d implement more of a pro atmosphere where respect is not demanded it’s a given. I wouldn’t have the player’s call me “coach”. I’d like to be at a big program, usually the bigger schools get better players and have a chance to play in Omaha. My goal would be to get my players to the next level and hopefully see them play on TV.
DP-After having an injury that ended last season early, tell us where you are with your rehab:
DM-Well, I had a bone spur and torn ligament in my hip and I was on crutches for ten weeks. It’s been 22 weeks now since the surgery, I can hit and throw and jog a little bit. I’m starting to sprint right now. I should be pretty close to 100 percent when Spring Training gets here.
DP-With your health pending, what do you think the Angels plans are for you right now?
DM-I’ve got to get healthy first. I’ve heard they may move Darin Erstad back to center and Chone Figgins to third base but I really don’t know.
DP-Tell the common person who is reading this article something he/she may not know about Major League baseball players:
DM-Not everybody has money and not everybody is a prick. Major League players have to work very hard and have made sacrifices their whole life to get where they are. When guys are at work and don’t sign autographs before a game, it’s because they are trying to get themselves ready to play. These guys still love baseball and want to be the best they can be. Most of them are really good people.
DP-What are your thoughts on what Diamond Prospects can do for kids in South Carolina?
DM-I think this is great, there was nothing like it when I came through, if you weren’t in a big city it was real hard to get seen. This looks like it will really cover high school baseball in a way that will really help college coaches.
DP-Give a high school player who is reading this article one piece of advice:
DM-Don’t ever let anyone change what you are built to do. If you are a power hitter, don’t let someone make you a singles hitter and vise versa. Know who you are as a player. It’s your career, not you coach, not your dad or your brother, it’s ultimately your career.
DP-Dallas, we really appreciate your doing this for us. Good luck with your rehab and during this season!.