May 31, 2011
There are plenty of top notch high school baseball playoff series remaining across the country, yet none can match the glitzy name recognition of a game which will take place in Southern California on Tuesday evening. That's where Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian High will face off against Palm Desert (Calif.) High in the California Southern Section playoffs. Perhaps more notably, the game will feature the sons of two former MVPs, albeit of different sports: Trevor Gretzky, the sire of hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, and USC-signee Ryan Garvey, the offspring of "Mr. Clean" Steve Garvey, himself.
While the celebrity fans in attendance may end up drawing more attention than the teams themselves, that's hardly fair to the younger Gretzky and Garvey, let alone the schools they represent. As noted by the Los Angeles Times, Palm Desert is the top seed in Southern California's Division 4, one of the most competitive regional classifications in the state, if not the nation.
Meanwhile, Oaks Christian starter Travis Radke will enter the playoff showdown with an 11-1 record and plenty of confidence that he can take care of a powerful Palm Desert lineup keyed on the slugging prowess of Ryan Garvey, who hit .381 with nine homers in the regular season alone, in the middle of the lineup.
That's not to mention Gretzky, whose bat has exploded in the latter stages of the 2011 season, a factor which was made incredibly apparent by his school-record 9 RBI game in late April. He hit for the cycle in that performance as well, just for good measure.
Naturally, both players are keen on leading their programs to the Div. 4 Southern Sectional title game, a landmark achievement for any squad which reached that point. Yet one of the two players with a famous surname might be able to take just a bit more from the experience of playing at Dodger Stadium than the other, considering the fact that Ryan Garvey's father spent his most notable years manning first base for 14 seasons.
"It would mean a lot for me and my Dad," Ryan Garvey told the Times.
His famous father wouldn't disagree, though it seems abundantly clear that Steve Garvey will be happy when son's scholastic career comes to a successful close. When asked about the experience of watching his son at the plate, the former NL MVP offered the following assessment:
"People say, 'How tough is it? It's like giving birth," Steve Garvey said.