ANAHEIM, Calif. – On Thursday night, members of the VCU Baseball team received a once-and-a-lifetime tour of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Stadium and had the chance to pick the brain of former VCU standout and current Angels GM Jerry DiPoto.
After entering through the administrative offices, the team received a first class tour that included stops in the press box, media room, suite level, before making their way down to the field and inside the Angels' dugout.
The Rams then headed up to the team locker room to meet with DiPoto. DiPoto offered insight and wisdom on the college experience, the path to major leagues as a player, transition to life after the game and the road from MLB scout to the general manager that inked superstar Albert Pujols toa megadeal.
VCU 18th year Head Coach Paul Keyes, who served as an assistant coach at VCU during DiPoto's tenure as a student-athlete, hopes the players took away a lot from the experience. "I think anytime you get in a situation where you have somebody of Jerry's stature, speaking to a group of players ages 18-22, that it is a wonderful experience. He shared a number of personal stories, including stories of living in the GERC building at VCU and pitching off wooden mounds in Franklin Street Gym, things that my players go through each day."
Keyes was most appreciative of the stories that DiPoto shared about DiPoto's perseverance when life threw him a curveball.
DiPoto shared on how his time at VCU helped shape him into the man he is today.
"I don't remember a lot of the things I learned in my time at VCU, but I do know that I came out of there a better person than when I went in," said DiPoto. "I came out stronger, both physically and mentally. If it hadn't been for my time at VCU, I would have never been able to make it through that meat grind (of professional baseball)."
The whole experience lasted roughly three hours, with the last hour DiPoto answering questions from both the players and staff. DiPoto answered everything from how to get out Barry Bonds (not an easy task) to if the Angels Rally Monkey is real (it is and they are having a Rally Monkey day this season).
Following the event, the team headed to dinner at a local restuarant as they turn their attention from sightseeing to their game against Long Beach State on Friday night.