The John Madden Show You've Never Seen

He might not have shiny white hair, thick not-so-white eyebrows, or a deep overpowering voice. He might not have his own annual video game filling the lines of Christmas lists of children and grown men alike. He might not have become synonymous with Monday Night Football on ABC, but he does share one thing in common with that popular football commentator—his name.

John Madden, a pitcher for the Eugene Emeralds, a Low-A San Diego Padres affiliate, is no stranger to the confusion or the jokes that come with having the same name as one of the most recognizable figures of professional football. Ask for John Madden in his household and you have to be specific - his dad is known by the same name.

In fact, every day John, Jr., the class of 2004 Auburn University graduate, said he gets asked about it, and every time he pitched he was reminded of it.

"When I was at Auburn," Madden said, "they used to play the Monday Night football music when I would come out and pitch."

The 23-year-old was a student at Auburn when the Tigers' football team was making its bid to play in the national championship game after going undefeated. However, Oklahoma and Southern California were the two schools chosen to play in the Orange Bowl.

"My senior year was [Auburn's] good year. It was great," he remembered. "It was fun. It made the year so much more interesting."

And did he feel that the Tigers got slighted though they were undefeated too?

"Yeah, of course. That's my team!"

Though Madden isn't into video games too much, he does play Madden '06, sometimes. When it comes to hits, this video game seems to be one, but hits are just what Madden prevents on the mound.

The 6-foot-4, 225-pound reliever, drafted in the eighth round out of Auburn, is built to be a power pitcher. The right-hander struck out 55 batters and only walked 17 in 38 games with the Emeralds, finishing his short season with a 2-5 record and a 3.48 ERA. Though he pitched middle relief, he projects as a possible closer. His best pitch, his two-seam fastball, helped him record five saves last year.

For him, baseball has been the one constant all his life, as he started playing T-ball when he was about four, as early as he could.

"I guess [T-ball] was the best thing that ever happened to me," he said. "I kept playing and had a great time. My grandparents had a 50th anniversary, and we went on a cruise. I think it was in the seventh grade, and we had to write down what we wanted to do when we got older. Everyone's writing that they wanted to be a doctor or whatever, and I said I wanted to be a professional baseball player. They're all laughing at me and stuff, and I knew right then that I wanted to be a professional baseball player.

"I don't really have any hobbies; just focus on baseball, hang out with my sisters, hang out with the family, hang out with friends."

Just as he is dedicated to baseball, Madden is to his two sisters as well. He said he is always trying to look out for Kristin, 18, and Lauren, 7.

"I'm not a big jerk about it though. I'm not beating up their boyfriends or anything," Madden joked. "I love them to death. They're the best things ever. They're my girls."

Madden, who was born in Edgewater, New Jersey, moved south to Florida with his family for warmer weather when he was about six years old. Soon, he was idolizing a major league pitcher from a state with similarly hot weather.

"I always liked Roger Clemens growing up," said Madden. "I think even more so now just because of his attitude, his drive, his will and his focus as he's getting older."

Besides the six Cy Young Awards, 1983 College World Series title, and over 4,000 career strikeouts, one of Clemens' accomplishments over the years has been proving himself a workhorse, proving that he belongs in a league filled with young, brash, and money-driven superstars. Madden, on the other hand, feels that he has something to prove, but not to others.

"I like to prove myself to me to see how far I can push myself," he said, "but I don't really care that much about whatever everyone else thinks. [My goal is to] make it to the show, to get up there and play for the Padres someday. I never really had a favorite team, but I really like the Padres organization. I couldn't be happier."

John Madden—the famous football broadcaster—and Monday Night Football may be a once-a-week show. But John Madden—the up and coming pitcher—is a show to be seen whenever he climbs into the booth (or the mound). Soon, he'll be the one yelling the "BOOM!"

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