Video: Giancarlo Stanton returns to Notre DameMarlins slugger back in Southern California to film commercial.
We're not sure if Giancarlo Stanton
— then known as Mike — was voted the most likely to succeed at Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks, Calif.)
back when he graduated in 2007.
But we're pretty sure no one predicted he'd be the richest — in all of North American sports.
The former three-sport standout for the Knights has agreed to sign a deal with the Miami Marlins worth — take a seat — $325 million over 13 years
The deal is so big it has to be approved by the commissioner's office, and is the richest in North American sports history.
Notre Dame football coach and athletic director Kevin Rooney said Monday he saw some of Stanton's success coming. But the two-time All-Star, who just turned 25, has already blasted 154 career home runs and knocked in 399 runs.
"He was a great kid — very humble and a hard worker," Rooney said. "He was exceptionally talented, but we didn't know how good he could be. We thought he'd be a good player, but it's hard to predict this kind of success."
Stanton is coming off his best season, hitting .288 with 37 home runs and 105 RBIs despite missing the last 17 games due to being hit by a pitch in the face. He was the National League's home run champion and a Silver Slugger-award winner.
Rooney, who has been at Notre Dame 35 years, thought Stanton's future success might have been on the gridiron or basketball court. He was an All-CIF receiver and cornerback, even at 6-foot-5 and 200 pounds. In two seasons
, he averaged better than 26 yards per reception with 12 touchdown catches, 11 coming his senior year.
Stanton was also the basketball team's top scorer
(19.7 points per game) and rebounder (13.5 per game). Rooney said Stanton was probably the best all-around athlete he's ever seen at the school, though former Raiders' running back Justin Fargas was close.
"Honestly, baseball seemed like his third-best sport," Rooney said. "He really didn't focus on it until he was drafted."
Though loaded with potential, Rooney said Stanton was somewhat raw in baseball. He had signs of sheer brilliance by hitting mammoth home runs — the same ones he's known to hit in the majors. But, probably because his focus was divided between three sports, he certainly wasn't a polished baseball product.
He did manage to hit .393 as a senior and launch 12 home runs and 32 RBIs. He also struck out a team-high 20 times.
"His plan, as I recall, was if he wasn't drafted high, he was going to USC to play football and baseball," Rooney said. UCLA and UNLV also offered football scholarships.
Notre Dame baseball coach Tom Dill told the Los Angeles Times Monday that scouts had mixed views about Stanton. The Knights never did.
"We always knew he was special," Dill said. "You should have heard our coaching staff. 'We think you're missing one. We think he can hit a curveball.' The other was he hasn't played enough baseball to take a chance. He could hit a curveball."
Stanton was drafted high enough — in the second round by the Marlins (76th overall) in 2007 — to scrap football and basketball. His rise to the majors was quick. He hit 28 home runs and drove in 92 runs his second season in the minors and launched 20 more minor-league homers in 50 games his third season before being called up to the Marlins on June 8, 2010.
He went 3-for-5 his first game with the big club, and his first home run in the majors was a grand slam. Stanton seemed to do everything in grand fashion.
A Dodgers fan growing up — his two favorite players were Robert Clemente and Pudge Rodriguez — Stanton comes home often and visits Notre Dame, Rooney said. Rooney's daughters went to school with him as well.
"He's just a good guy, just the same kid he's always been," Rooney said.
But a tad wealthier. If he plays every game throughout the 13-year contract, he'll make more than $154,000 per contest. Before taxes, of course.
Locals would have loved if Stanton had come home and signed with the Dodgers.
"It sounds like he made a pretty good decision," Rooney said with a slight laugh. "When we heard (the contract), it seemed pretty incredible. Like everyone, we were in utter shock. We're obviously very happy for Giancarlo and proud of him."
Dill told the Times he thinks the money won't effect his play on the field.
"This is a great kid," he said. "I appreciate he does things the right way. I'm thrilled for him. I know there's a lot of pressure that goes with that contract. I'm confident he'll be the same Giancarlo he's always going to be."