Stanford Catcher Prepares To Be A Surgeon

Editor/Collegiate Baseball

STANFORD, Calif. — Stanford’s Maverick Handley is one of the elite catchers in college baseball.

He also is studying to be an orthopedic surgeon which requires a massive amount of academic study.

Maverick helped the Cardinal achieve a 2.83 team ERA with a .218 opponent batting average last season.

He threw out 17 of 26 runners trying to steal against him last season.

This season, he hasn’t allowed a stolen base in two attempts with the Cardinal playing 15 games.

What piqued his interest in becoming an orthopedic surgeon?

“I broke my left ankle when I was playing basketball at Mullen High School (Lakewood, Colo.),” said Handley.

“It was the first major injury I ever had, and it was something I never experienced before with the pain involved and recovery time. I was introduced to surgeons at the Steadman Hawkins Clinic in Denver.”

Surgeons and medical personnel at this clinic work with the Denver Broncos, Colorado Rockies and the U.S. Ski team, among others.

“I became fascinated with the entire process they were explaining to me, and I wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon at that point. It was a super scary time for me as anybody knows who goes through an injury like a this. The surgeons were reassuring and did everything in their power to make sure I recovered properly.

“It took five months after surgery was performed until I could play sports again. My ankle came back 100 percent. While I don’t play basketball anymore, I catch all the time with pressure being on both ankles as I receive pitches.

“As a doctor, you can make a huge difference in the lives of many people.”

Maverick is majoring in biomechanical engineering and pre-med in the quest to be an orthopedic surgeon.

“There are a lot of science and math classes involved. My typical week is a minimum two classes a day. I am in a bio-chemical class that meets four times a week. I also attend a math class that meets twice a week for two hours each time.

“Typically I have another class with a lab section. I miss one or two practices a week because of my academic load.

“I can be gone from 9:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. straight with classes. Last year I built a fermenter in one class. In bio-engineering, we genetically engineered cells to make a metal enhancer.

“All of these classes are super cool as you work with a lot of smart people.

“The shortest lab is two hours, and the longest one can run five hours. For the 5-hour lab, they let us out to take mental breaks because it is so long.

“But you have to take that amount of time with the classes I am involved with.

“Last year, I took 19 units each quarter. I was loaded up with classes, and it was really tough. I felt my baseball suffered a bit as I wasn’t able to take as much time as I wanted to be the best player I could possibly be.

“My hitting stats weren’t great last season.”

He hit .229 with 9 doubles and 23 RBI.

This season, he is second on the team with a .302 batting average, 4 doubles, 2 triples, 10 RBI and 12 runs scored. He has stolen 4 of 5 bases.

Not Overwhelmed In Life
Maverick said he never gets too overwhelmed as he balances baseball and biomechanical engineering as he prepares to enter Stanford Medical School down the road.

“A lot of our players devote a great deal of time to baseball and struggle to find an identity outside of the game. Everybody knows that one day playing baseball will be over.

“Baseball is a game of failure. If you don’t have something to be involved with outside of the game, you can be sucked into a real dark place.

“As far as school, I am fortunate to say that academics have never really been that difficult for me. Probably not a lot of people say that. I have just enjoyed being part of the baseball program at Stanford and also being involved in biomechanical engineering as I gear up for Medical School to be an orthopedic surgeon.

“The key for me is staying organized with my time and staying on top of my homework. I have found a great balance between academics and baseball.”

Maverick was asked if he would like to specialize in Tommy John surgery and shoulder surgery for baseball players and possibly be the next Dr. Frank Jobe or Dr. Jim Andrews.

“Ideally, I make the Big Leagues as a catcher and have a 20-year career,” said Maverick.

“Then I could retire and decide what I want to do after that. If my career path takes me to orthopedic surgery when my baseball career stops, I don’t know if I would want to specialize in any type of orthopedic surgery for baseball players or work with the overall population or even emergency medicine.

“That will be determined in med school.”

To read more of this story, purchase the March 8, 2019 edition of Collegiate Baseball or subscribe by CLICKING HERE. Maverick explains what the cutting edge of medical research is with elbow and shoulder surgery for pitchers. He also delves into the art of catching and how he helps formulate plans to outwit opponent hitters and how he helps his pitchers be at their best during games. In addition, he explains how Rapsodo is used for the pitching staff and why tunneling is an important part of what Stanford pitchers utilize, plus more.