Bruce Maxwell: Against all Odds

“Hits this one well to left centerfield, (Jake) Morisnick back, and that baby is gone! Maxwell goes the other way and the A’s lead 2-1,” Glen Kuiper exclaimed. A home run for Bruce Maxwell that was a long time in the making, as against all odds the German-born catcher had made his mark in the show.

Maxwell’s journey to the big leagues is an unusual one to say the least. Born in Wiesbaden, Germany on a U.S. military installation, Maxwell would become only the 42nd German-born major leaguer in the game’s long and storied history. In a statistic provided by High School Baseball Web, only about 5.6 percent of boys playing baseball in high school will go on to play in college. This number drops down even lower when considering how many will go on to be drafted at less than one percent. It is more likely that a team down 3-1 would be able to come back and win a series, though the recent success of teams like the Cub’s and Cavaliers may say otherwise.

Maxwell went on to attend Birmingham-Southern College, a DIII school, which had offered little in the area of major league talent. Talk about the odds being stacked against him. Although Maxwell may have attended a little known University, his game spoke volumes as his play on the field overcame his doubt off of it.

“Doubts are everywhere! There had been only eight DIII players ever to make it to the big leagues and I became the 9th…I mean that in itself is filled with doubts,”explained Maxwell. By those numbers, there is a greater probability of winning the lottery, or better yet finding a needle in a haystack.

Known for his bat, Maxwell hit his way to the Player of the Year award. This was an accomplishment that opened up the eyes of major league teams and kept them open. He caught the attention of the Oakland Athletics, the team that would go on to draft him in the second round of the 2012 MLB draft. Maxwell’s rise would continue, although there were speed bumps along the way.

“The game of baseball gets harder the higher you go, so getting to the big leagues is very difficult,” Maxwell noted. “You have to stay on the field, produce, adjust, etc. at a fast and efficient pace.”

Continuing to adjust and produce, Maxwell retooled his game, as he has become an all-around talent in the process. Known always for his bat, Maxwell had quietly been able to become an excellent defensive catcher, quickly forcing his way as the Athletics number one catching prospect heading into the 2017 season.

“He made some adjustments during Spring Training this year,” Eric Martins the A’s minor league hitting instructor previously stated. “He worked on a newer setup in his load and just continued working balls to left-center field and then really working on the ball in with the correct path and something just clicked.”

A dream became a reality on July 23, 2016, as the former DIII ball player had finally made it to the big leagues. On the moment Maxwell explained, “my first home game in Oakland was my I made it moment for sure, name on the lineup card and fans cheering me on.”

Maxwell looks to continue on the success he had during his rookie season that saw him finish with a .283/.337/.402 line. He is looking to be more consistent than he was a year ago and continue to improve. The positive outlook on the field carries over from his well-mannered personality off of it. Although he recognizes the importance of the statistical performance of a ball player’s career, Maxwell explained that his legacy as a person is even greater.

He said, “I’m a part of an elite group now but my jersey is still just my job. I continue to be personal with my fans and kids because when it is all over more people remember how you make them feel over your stats.”

An unorthodox journey to the big leagues to say the least as Bruce Maxwell undoubtedly beat the odds stacked against him. Whether it was being German born, going to a Division III university, or even being 26 at the time of his debut, Maxwell truly proved his worth as an anomaly and baseball’s “needle in a haystack.”

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