One “Weird” Pitcher
“What’s with the donuts?” is a question that is not new to Kevin Gausman. Unless you’ve been living in exile, you probably know at least two things about the 21-year-old: 1) that he was the number one pick in the Orioles 2012 draft, and 2) he has a fondness for powdered donuts.
Like a true atypical ballplayer, Gausman’s dreams of playing professional baseball were completely unique to his experiences. They began with an agreement made by his great-great-grandfather and the College World Series.
“He put in the lights at Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium and he made a deal with them that the only way he would do it is if they give him eight tickets behind the third base dugout, front row, for the rest of its existence,” Gausman said. “I got to go to the College World Series every year since I was five. And then I got older and started playing some baseball tournaments out there and really kind of learned the game through that.”
His history with the College World Series is one explanation why Guasman opted out of signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers when they chose him in the 6th round of the 2010 MLB draft out of Grandview High School in Centennial, Colorado. “I felt like if I went to college I would have the chance to fulfill my dreams of winning the National Championship and playing at Rosenblatt Stadium.”
On his career at Centenial, “I didn’t know that much about pitching and I was more of just a thrower. I threw hard and had a good arm, and had success in high school because the competition in Colorado wasn’t that good,” Gausman stated. “I felt that I really needed to mature not just as a pitcher, but as a person and after just two years at Louisiana State University, I feel like I’m pretty much prepared for what’s going on in my life right now.”
Gausman’s friendly tone and willingness to bare his soul left no question about why he loved his time at LSU and considered returning for his junior year instead of signing. “I always liked the southern aspect; the Deep South always fascinated me. That’s what I think makes LSU such a special place, not just how good of a baseball program they have. I think it’s the southern hospitality that they just emulate in everyday life.”
Playing currently for the Frederick Keys, Gausman’s never made it to the College World Series with LSU. Because of the amount of pitching he did in college, his innings have been limited since his start in the Orioles organization, only being allowed to pitch about three innings per game.
“For me, it’s kind of frustrating. It’s a little different, but I know why they’re doing it. They’re trying to keep me as healthy as I possibly can be,” Gausman said. “I definitely agree with it, but at the same time I’m always going to be one of those guys that want to throw a complete game.”
For good luck, the 1st round draft pick eats four white powdered donuts in between innings in the dugout. “I mean, I’m always hungry,” Gausman joked. “I eat a lot but never gain any weight. So that just feeds into what I do. I always tell people that it keeps me on a sugar high the whole game.”
He also has an extensive routine when putting on his baseball socks, always crow-hop his first warm up pitch at the top of the frame, and will not step on the foul line when leaving or returning to the dugout.
On his superstitions, “certain guys have certain things, and every pitcher is a little weird. I guess that’s just my thing. It puts you in a mindset where you’re comfortable… and puts you in a place of confidence. [My routines] remind me that it’s just a game. They are something that I’ve been doing for a really long time and I’m not going to stop doing it when I have success,” Gausman said.