Note: Bercume was released by the A's organization on July 22nd.
Jeff Bercume's journey to professional baseball was not an easy one. Despite a storied collegiate career with Merrimack College, Bercume went undrafted in 2009. He then was unable to land a contract with an independent league team.
Undeterred, Bercume joined the California Winter League, a professional development and showcase league. He played well in that league and caught the eye of the Oakland A's. He signed a free agent contract with Oakland and spent the 2010 season with short-season Vancouver.
With the C's, Bercume spent much of the season at the top of the order and he hit .280 with a .345 OBP. Bercume is spending the 2011 season with the Vermont Lake Monsters. Donald Moore spoke with Bercume during a recent Lake Monsters' roadtrip.
Donald Moore: Hi Jeff, what are your goals this season?
Jeff Bercume: I think they will kind of evolve as I have a clear image of what my role will be. To this point, I haven't had a lot of playing time, but I understand the position I'm on this team. Just do what I can to be a positive influence for the younger players as a second year guy. And when my opportunity comes, make the best of it. And try to work my way into the lineup more.
DM: What is your greatest strength as a ball player?
JB: I think I put the ball in play. You know I compete with a pitcher. I like to think I'm a tough out. I'm not going to put as many balls over the fence, but he's also going to have to rely on his fielders to make plays behind him, because I'm going to put the ball in play and I'm going to run hard to first base.
DM: Is there any person, player or coach who taught you the most about baseball?
JB: My college coach. Turned me into the player that I am now. His name is Joe Sarno at Merrimack College. And he taught me how to be a tough player. Someone who had a positive attitude and maybe a little bit of an aura about them that I didn't previously have and he's the guy that gave me the chance to really turn me into the player that I am today.
DM: Favorite team growing up?
JB: I was a Red Sox fan. Living an hour away from Boston, and my whole family are Red Sox fans and part of Red Sox Nation.
DM: Favorite player?
JB: My dad at a young age kind of pointed me out to Joe DiMaggio and the way he carried himself on the field. His demeanor, the way he dealt with adversity on the field and the way he never let his emotions get the best of him, and used them to his advantage instead of having them kind of be the thing that would deteriorate his performance.
DM: Any hobbies?
JB: I play guitar. I've been playing guitar since my senior year in high school. So it's been about five or six years since I've been playing guitar. I love music.
DM: Craziest thing you've ever seen on the diamond?
JB: Last year in Vancouver there was a triple play. I wasn't involved in it. It's probably statistically the most unlikely thing to happen.
DM: Five years from now, where do you see yourself?
JB: Geez, I don't know, one day at time. I don't want to project to far into the future. Just take things one day at a time and get one percent batter each day.
DM: Thank you so much for your time and the best of luck to you.