"All I want to do is be the best that I can be..." - Steve McQuail
Photo by Tom Wolf Imaging
Steve McQuail had enough. He was miserable. With playing part-time his freshman year at Canisius, the dismal summer performance with the wood bat, they stoked his fire. He’d always wanted to play in the majors, but a modest output in his first go-through at the collegiate level reminded the Golden Griffin infielder that the road to the big leagues presented plenty of pitfalls that had claimed many a hopeful before.
In essence, he started over. “It woke me up in a sense,” McQuail said. “I went in the cage and changed everything about my swing. I watched videos of what the pros did and just tried to model my swing after them, exactly how they swing. I worked the hardest I could possibly work.”
Since the makeover, McQuail hasn’t stopped barreling up pitch after pitch. In a monstrous ’09 summer, one in which he led the country with 16 home runs, his draft status has skyrocketed. Even with the praise with which he’s been showered, McQuail won’t soon lose sight of what’s put him in that position.
“Even after the year I had and the hits that I got, all that stuff, I’m still hooked on working harder because I think I can excel even more,” McQuail said. “I’m not at all complacent about where I am. All I want to do is be the best that I can be and I’ll always be working toward that goal.”
McQuail played three varsity seasons at MacArthur High School in Levittown and was named to the First Team All-State as a senior. As a freshman at Canisius, McQuail’s squad won 41 games but he struggled at the plate, batting just .200. That summer, he struggled swinging the wood in the Hamptons, batting just .174. The year was lost, yet strangely it was just what McQuail needed. His work in the cage increased. He studied diligently. He got stronger. It showed last fall as he entered his sophomore year.
This past spring, McQuail batted .314 with 10 homers and 45 RBI for Canisius, which came a win away from reaching the College World Series Regionals. The real attention came as he suited up for the Front Royal Cardinals of the Virginia-based Valley Baseball League. He went 5 for 5 with a pair of homers in his first game. It was just the beginning. By the time he was wrapped up his summer, he’d hit .309 with league-high 16 homers and 42 RBI.
“All summer, I had to be in some sort of daze,” McQuail said. “I was hitting all these home runs and I never realized the magnitude of what I was doing. I just went out every night and every at-bat I was just trying to hit the ball hard.”
He even won the Valley’s home run derby. On top of that, his Cardinals – who collectively arrived a week earlier than any other squad to start adjusting to the wood bats – went 30-17 and posted the best record in the regular season.
Of course, there is more work to do. Talent scouts will now look to see how McQuail follows up his
breakout summer as he and the Golden Griffins have their sights set on a conference title. “I went out in the summer and just had a lot of fun,” McQuail said. “I was able to play every night and I tried to be really loose, really calm, and it helped to bring my game out a lot.”