Catching up with Joe Borchard

In ancient times, before texting, designer cargo pants and the boy band craze, four players formed an unprecedented collection of Stanford quarterbacks...

The starter had just led the Cardinal to its most recent bowl win. His backup later took the program to its first Rose Bowl in 28 years. The freshman third-stringer was considered the nation's best quarterback coming out of high school.

Thirteen years later, the fourth member – who set a Pac-10 record for the longest touchdown pass – still plays professionally.

Granted, Joe Borchard's chosen trade has long involved a bat and a glove. His 11th season of professional baseball has him in his second year with the Fresno Grizzlies. Now 31, he bats clean-up behind Buster Posey and plays outfield for the San Francisco Giants' Triple-A affiliate.

It's been years since Chad Hutchinson was last involved in either of those two sports. Stanford football radio broadcasts now call on Todd Husak. Officer Randy Fasani wears a much more serious uniform: the Roseville Police Department.

Outsiders may consider Borchard's June of 2000 decision to leave school and football for the millions in signing bonus money an easy one. Not so fast, my friend (apologies to Lee Corso).

Borchard played in two games when Husak sat injured in 1999, throwing for 300 yards each time. The 98-yard bomb to Troy Walters against UCLA, a huge blow in the victory over the defending Pac-10 champion Bruins, remains both a school and conference mark.

"It was definitely not an easy decision to make," Borchard said from his apartment in Fresno, joined by wife Erin and three-year old daughter Ellie and son Charlie, 21 months old. "You have to give up everything you've known for three years to what amounts as a great unknown. It was really tough giving up football."

This is joyous week for the Borchard family, who on Wednesday enjoyed their first dinner together in weeks. The clan will spend the season in Fresno but keeps a more rooted residence in Charlotte, N.C., near where the former all-conference outfielder played Triple-A for the Chicago White Sox organization. It had been two months since Borchard last saw his young offspring. "It felt like two years," he gushed.

Much longer is the duration of time since Chicago tabbed him with the 12th pick in the 2000 draft. Former college teammates like pitchers Justin Wayne and Jason Young and outfielder John Gall just recently retired. The Giants are his fifth professional organization.

Borchard, however, calls his career "a blink of an eye" to date. His most high-profile tenure to date came with the team that drafted him. He came of age alongside those who led Chicago to the 2005 World Series crown, rooming with Mark Buerhle during spring training. He fanned 93 times in 298 career at-bats with the White Sox, but he did have five hits in 12 at-bats during 2005.

Chicago sent him to Arizona to train during the postseason run to keep him fresh, just in case an emergency called upon his services. He was part of the on-field victory celebration once the sweep over the Astros was complete. His agent was and remains Jim McDowell, older brother of all-time White Sox fan favorite and former Stanford College World Series hero Jack McDowell.

But the White Sox dealt their former bonus baby to Seattle that spring for lefty reliever Matt Thornton, still a mainstay in the Chicago bullpen. He's yet to appear in a Major League game since totaling 463 at-bats in two seasons (2006-2007) with Florida.

"I'm still fortunate to have played as long as I have," said Borchard, whose dad grows lemons and avocados in Ventura County. "That's an accomplishment to itself. As long as I still wear a uniform, I still have a chance to make it back."

Recent years have seen Borchard make some contingency plans, in addition to regular trips to Las Vegas to catch a Randy Travis or George Strait concert. He went back to Stanford in the fall of 2007 before soon completing his degree in history.

Now is the chance to match his wife of nearly seven years in earning an advanced degree. The former Erin Sones, an NCAA diving champion for the Cardinal, earned her Master's before opening a home-based fitness studio back in North Carolina. Borchard plans to attend business school once his playing days are over.

"He could do anything he wants," said former football teammate Austin Lee, now an academic advisor in the Cardinal athletic department. "He could be a GM or something in the front office in the Majors. He could manage a construction company or something related to farming. He's done well and overcome a lot just do be where he is."


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