Chris Woodward, the infielder for the Las Vegas 51s is not all about hitting home runs. He’s a dedicator student at the University of Phoenix too even spending time studying in the team’s clubhouse. 35-year-old Woodward is getting ready for life after a career in the big leagues by taking a business management degree which he hopes to complete this year.
However being a top ball player and a student is tough game by anyone’s standards. “There are some days where I cut it close,” he said. “In Fresno, the game went 15 innings and didn’t get finished until 11:45. I had my work done but had to run it through a program to clean it up. I was sitting there in my spikes and uniform on my computer.”
Woodward finds time to study inbetween practice sessions and not surprisingly he leaves socializing to his more rambunctious teammates. “It is an accomplishment, especially since I’m doing it while playing. Guys have kind of seen me grinding through the season,” Woodward said. “They are like, ‘Do you want to have some beers?’ I have to tell them I have homework to do.”
Woodward has had a successful career but it is certainly coming to a close. He is batting just .265 and recently went hitless in 10 at-bats. He has played in just 52 major league games since 2009. Some predict that Woodward’s talents may lie in management or scouting, both roles his business management degree will land him in good stead for.
Woodward’s career reached the big leagues in 1999 when he was playing for Toronto and has since played for five big league teams. Nowadays Woodward mentors younger players just coming up through the ranks. He has always thrived on being a professional athlete and has never had a formal education. That has changed in the last three years since enrolling in his business management course. “My first year not in the big leagues was 2008, and that was a big eye-opener,” he said. “I realized this (his playing career) could be over tomorrow. I didn’t want to get caught with my pants down when my career was over with nothing to fall back on. I wanted to make myself more valuable for whatever was next (after baseball).”