Former Skyhawks in the Spotlight: Darwin Barney

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Former Skyhawks in the Spotlight: Darwin Barney

Kyle Pinnell

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It only took Southridge High School three years before one of its athletic programs brought home a state championship. That was a 4A baseball state title with a team that started four Sophomores, one of which went on to play for seven years in the major leagues.

That Sophomore was shortstop Darwin Barney.

Growing up, Barney was around baseball all the time. He started playing when he was around five years old and by the time he got to high school he was one of the better players in the state.

At Southridge, Barney was both first-team all-state and the Metro League player of the year in the 2003 and 2004 seasons.

During the season, team runs were his opportunity to tune out everyday life and envision the future.

“One of the fastest miles that I have ever run was one of those team runs and I remember thinking about trying to make it to the majors. That’s what was pushing me,” Barney said as he recalled his sub-six minute mile.

One of the best things that could’ve happened for Barney’s development came during the 8-7 comeback win over Newberg in the 2002 state championship. Playing in a close, pressure-packed game helped Barney prepare for college where he played in two College World Series championships.

“Playing in a game of that kind of magnitude early in my life at that level made those other games seem easier to handle when you get to college and start playing in the world series of college,” he said.

After his time at Southridge, Barney had college visits lined up with schools such as Oregon State, Washington State, Georgia Tech, and Miami. However, after visiting Oregon State he canceled all his other meetings and committed to play college baseball for the Beavers. Barney cited getting to play for a good program with familiar faces as some of the main reasons for his decision.

In Barney’s four years at Oregon State, he was named Pac-10 Freshman of the year in 2005 and won back-to-back college championships in 2006 and 2007.

The success of those Beaver teams in the early 2000’s caused the University of Oregon to reintroduce their school baseball team after a 26-year hiatus.

“I’d say that’s something a lot of us took pride in,” Barney said. “The fact that Oregon couldn’t sit back and watch us get in the spotlight.”

In 2007 Barney was drafted by the Chicago Cubs, but he wouldn’t play his first game in the MLB until 2010.

While with the Cubs Barney won the Gold Glove award along with the Fielding Bible award, an award which was given to him for being the best-fielding second baseman in the MLB. During that 2012 season, Barney etched his name into the record books as he tied the record for the most consecutive errorless games at second base (141).

After his time with the Cubs, Barney bounced around and played for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Toronto Blue Jays before ending his playing career with the Texas Rangers.

Because playing in the major leagues was such a grind, Barney said that his favorite memories took place anytime something went well. That included his first time in the big leagues and opening day in 2011.

“You just look back and reflect on it and it all feels like it took a lot,” Barney said.

Darwin Barney is second from the bottom left

These days Barney is living in Lake Oswego with his wife and three kids where he is focusing on a new project: The Portland Diamond Project.

The Portland Diamond Project is an organization that is hoping to bring Major League Baseball to the city of Portland. Barney is joining alongside celebrities such as Russell Wilson and Ciara as advisors and investors to the project.

“Baseball in Oregon is growing and it has been growing for the past 10-15 years,” Barney said about his decision to join the project. “It feels good to maybe have a little bit a part of that. So to continue doing that and grow the game here, possibly bring a team– that’s the ultimate goal –would mean a lot.”

Barney cites his own childhood rooting interest of the Boston Red Sox to further emphasize the importance of growing the game in Oregon.

“To have a hometown team so the kids don’t have to be Yankees fans, Mariners fans, whatever, it would definitely make an impact on getting more kids out there,” Barney said. “You get more kids out there, it gets more competitive, and more guys end up making it to the next level. That’s how you end up growing the game a little bit.”

After reflecting on his own playing career and what it took for him to make it to the major leagues he acknowledges just how rare that accomplishment is.

And when asked for any advice he might have for high school students with similar ambitions he simply said to do the math.

“There’s three percent of players that get drafted make it to the big leagues,” Barney said. “The average career is one year.”

“Not making it isn’t an option in your mind, but being smart and taking care of your business in the classroom is important because the odds are always against you when you’re trying to be a professional athlete,” he added.

From the kid that dreamed about making it to the big leagues while exercising to Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” to working on bringing an MLB team to Portland, Barney is proud of what he has accomplished in his playing career and is excited about where his future may take him.