By Katherine Terrell | LSU Student
Tiger centerfielder Arby Fields always wanted to play baseball at LSU, but the journey to get there wasn't quite what he expected.
Fields was sitting in a classroom at Cypress College in California last year when he got a call from then-LSU pitching coach David Grewe. It didn't take much of a sales pitch to reel Fields down to the bayou.
"This is where I wanted to come out of high school," Fields said. "When I got this opportunity again, I wasn't going to pass it up."
Fields was baseball and football star at Los Osos High School in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., in 2009 when LSU hitting coach Javi Sanchez first took notice. LSU expressed interest, but Fields wanted more than a spot on the baseball team.
He needed to get football out of his system.
Fields' uncles, Scott and Arnold Fields, played in the NFL and the younger Fields wasn't ready to give it up after high school. He passed up the 2009 Major League Baseball draft where the Atlanta Braves had selected him in the 32nd round and enrolled at Northwestern in Evanston, Ill.
He spent a year and a half on the Wildcats' football and baseball teams. Fields led the football team with 302 rushing yards, scored five touchdowns and caught 17 passes for 79 yards. On the baseball team, he batted .292 and had a team-leading 15 doubles.
Despite high expectations things went south quickly for Fields. He dislocated his shoulder going into the 2010 football season and rushed for negative yards in the season opener. He fell down the depth chart after a series of inconsistent performances.
When the regular season was over, Fields had enough. After rushing for only 178 yards and one touchdown, he transferred to Cypress College before the Wildcats' bowl game to focus solely on baseball.
The Tigers circled back to Fields after a disappointing season of their own. LSU was predicted to win the Southeastern Conference Western Division in 2011 but finished in a tie for last place with a 13-17 SEC record.
Fields spurned the MLB draft again to enroll at LSU, passing on a chance to sign with the San Diego Padres in the 27th round.
This time, he was done with football – for good.
"Football was always fun for me. … My family was doing it, my uncles were doing it. I grew up around it. But baseball … is what I what I wanted to make a career out of. … I played as long as I could."
At first, the change of scenery didn't bring the needed results. Due to poor performances in fall practice, Fields mostly viewed the Tigers' games from the dugout.
But injuries to starters Chris Sciambra—out for the season with a neck injury—and Raph Rhymes – who missed two games with a concussion – gave Fields one more chance.
So far this season, Fields has run with the opportunity. With three quarters of the season completed, he's batting .288 and leads the Tigers with three triples.
"He's always been one of the hardest workers out here," said LSU first baseman Mason Katz. "He and I got real close in the fall. Things didn't go the way he wanted it to and he had a lot to think about over Christmas break. I told him to come out here and work as hard as he could and coach would notice."
LSU coach Paul Mainieri said going through adversity made Fields a stronger player – a quality he's noticed in many of his best players.
"When he first got here, he just didn't perform well. He came back in the spring and wasn't much better. Because of some circumstances, we were forced to finally [play him] and this young guy took advantage of those opportunities. He's made our team better and he's provided a spark for the team."