Serra Padres learned what life is like on the road for a pro baseball player, when Justin Maffei ’09 spoke to student-athletes last week. In June, Maffei was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 25th round. He spent a month in the Gulf Coast Rookie League before moving up to Single A short season in Jamestown, New York.
“Playing pro ball is something that I have dreamed about my whole life,” Maffei noted. “Achieving that goal is truly gratifying. I get to do something for a living not many people have a chance to do, and I'm very thankful for that.”
Despite his recent success, Maffei remains humble, down-to-earth, and keenly aware that playing professional baseball requires hard work, dedication and a deep sense of gratitude.
“I have realized what a blessing it was for me to attend Serra,” he told the Padres. “You guys should be thankful every day that this is where you get to go to school. Nothing compares to what you have here at Serra. When you go home, tell your parents ‘thank you.’ It’s a sacrifice for a lot of parents. All of my best friends today are still guys who went to Serra with me. The Serra brotherhood is a special bond.”
It is that bond that keeps Maffei grounded, especially when he’s on the road. When asked “What is the least glamorous aspect of pro baseball?” he answered, “the LONG bus rides – specifically the 9- to 10-hour ones. Also, Minor League players don't make anywhere near the salary of a big-leaguer, so the pay and living accommodations are some of the less glamorous aspects of pro baseball.”
Maffei graduated from USF in May with a bachelor’s degree in advertising. He finished his college baseball career last spring, after helping USF gain a birth in the NCAA Oregon Regional.
“Justin is a class act who exemplifies what it means to be a Padre,” said Serra Head Baseball Coach Craig Gianinno. “His perspective was well-received by our student-athletes, and he inspired them to work hard.”
Junior Scott Ota said Maffei’s talk made him realize that talent alone won’t get a player to the next level. “You have to put in the work because there is someone out there who is working just as hard, as or even harder than you are,” Ota explained.
“Listening to Justin made me realize that talent can only take you so far,” agreed junior Chris Papapietro. “It’s the hard work and dedication to the sport and weight room that separate the good players from the great players.”
Maffei’s current goal is to be drafted by Major League Baseball in three to five years. He said the values he learned at Serra provided a strong foundation for the athletic success he has achieved so far.
“Serra taught me that nothing comes easily – you have to work for what you want,” Maffei said. “Serra also taught me to lead on and off the field. Service is important to me. I love to give back to my community, and help to change the lives of others.”