Several days ago, in the midst of a record-setting tear through the first week of his major league career, Colorado Rockies shortstop Trevor Story recalled a time when he got angry at a former coach for not letting him play on the varsity team as a freshman at Irving High School outside Dallas.
Needless to say, that coach wishes he could have a do-over, too.
"He really wanted to play with his brother, who was a senior at the time, and I didn't pull him up until right at the end of the season," former Irving coach Jay Malone told FOX Sports Monday. "It really made me look like a dummy, because his first at-bat he doubles off the wall, and I'm thinking, 'Oh my gosh, I should have had this kid up a lot earlier than I did.'"
At this point, the feeling is probably mutual for Colorado, which has seen the 23-year-old come seemingly from nowhere to smash seven homers in his first six big-league games. But Malone says he, like the Rockies, could have never anticipated this kind of debut from the slender infielder, who holds the major league record for most home runs in a team's first six games of the season.
"The surprise has been pretty great," Malone said of Story, who at 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds is not your prototypical slugger. "We all expected Trevor to do well, but when you're talking about beating records that Willie Mays and Mike Schmidt set -- I can't say that I saw that."
Once Story got over not being able to play a full season alongside his brother Tyler, he quickly developed into a star at Irving under Malone. He was named the Tigers' offensive player of the year each of his three seasons on the varsity squad, but Malone says Story was typically the type to hit for average, not necessarily the power he's putting on display now.
"He was more of a doubles hitter in high school," Malone said. "He would just bang them off the wall, more of a line-drive type of hitter. Now he's got more of a lift on the ball, getting it out of the park. But he was always my three-hole hitter. My lineup card was just automatic -- Story was always in the three-hole."
Of course, when the team needed a homer, Story was certainly able to take one yard, as well.
"He did hit home runs and hit some with some big, big power -- one time he hit it over into the softball field, which was behind our baseball field," Malone said. "He was just phenomenal. You couldn't help but notice what he was doing at the plate."
That much was evident just from the number of scouts who showed up to watch Story swing.
Four years before Story was taken 45th overall by the Rockies, the Texas Rangers picked another Irving player, 6-foot-7 right-hander Blake Beavan, 17th overall. At the time, Beavan -- who last pitched in the majors for the Mariners in 2014 -- was arguably a more highly touted prospect than Story was, but whereas crosscheckers frequently made calls to check up on Beavan, they showed up in droves to see Story in person.
"We had a fence that was right there by our batting cages, and I commented one day to one of the other coaches that, 'Man, they look like turtles on a log sitting out there in a lake,'" Malone recalled. "There were about 28 teams there one day that were watching him hit, and they would show up time, and time, and time again, and Trevor would put on a show."
However, Story's star status never led to any resentment in the dugout.
"Trevor always fit in very well with the other kids he played with," Malone said. "Trevor has never, ever, ever been one of those kids that says, 'Hey, look at me.' People always noticed him, but it was because of the way he played the game, not because he was saying, 'Hey, I'm good, I can do this.' He was just never one of those kinds of kids."
At one point, Story had committed to play at LSU, but eventually decided to go pro. Malone said he didn't encourage Story, who hit close to .500 with 20 extra base hits and 11 steals as a senior, one way or another but expected him to go to college.
Early on, the decision looked like a gamble -- particularly when Story struck out 183 times in 497 at-bats for High-A Modesto in 2013 -- but last year Story began to find a groove, hitting .279 and stroking 20 homers between Double-A and Triple-A. He was originally slated to be a temporary fill-in for former All-Star Jose Reyes, who is on paid leave following an October domestic violence arrest, but now Reyes is in serious danger of being Wally Pipped by Colorado's new sensation up the middle.
"Trevor saw this as a chance to show what he could really do, and well, you can see what's happened," Malone said. "It's going to be really hard to get him out of the lineup, it really is. He got an opportunity, and he's responding to it."
Still, Story has to remain realistic that his current pace is not tenable, but Malone says Story isn't the type who will be thrown off when he finally comes down to earth.
"Trevor knows the ups and he knows the downs and he knows it's a long season," Malone said. "He's going to enjoy it while he can, but I'm telling you, Trevor will be around. He's going to hit for average, he's going to probably hit a lot more home runs, but he will not let this go to his head, I can promise you. He's just a down to earth kid who loves, loves, loves to play the ballgame.
"He's one of those kids that's going to go out there and he's going to grind and he's going to play the game," Malone added. "A lot of people look at it and say, 'Wow, look what he's doing, he's a phenom,' but Trevor has worked so hard to get to this point."
He also hasn't forgotten where he came from, and Story is still close with the community that raised him -- even the coach who made him play JV.
At one point last week, Malone texted Story to congratulate him on his hot start. Malone said Story texted back almost immediately thanking him and offering tickets when the Rockies visit the Rangers in August. Malone says he will certainly be there when Colorado comes to town, but he readily admits he might not be able to wait that long to see Story play in person.
"I texted him right back and said, 'If I want them? Good gracious, you know I want them,'" Malone said. "But I'm planning on going up there and seeing him in the summer in Denver."
"It's fun for me," Malone added of Story's success. "I go and watch my grandsons play little league here in town and when I'm around the parents, I say, 'All right, I'm going to see how much you know about baseball,' and you bring it up -- 'What's happening that's never happened before?' They'll say, 'There's some rookie that's doing something,' and then my chest goes out, 'Yeah, I coached him in high school.'
"You hear stories about, 'These are things that I'm going to tell my grandkids,'" Malone continued, "and that's what I'm doing now."
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