LAWRENCE — Let’s start here: For Dayne Crist, the name is ‘Mike’. Well, actually ‘Mikey’. But never Giancarlo. No, that would be too weird.
On Saturday night, Crist will run onto the Memorial Stadium turf and start his first game under center for the Kansas Jayhawks. But before Crist transferred to Kansas, before he survived through four turbulent years at Notre Dame, before all that, he was unwittingly throwing touchdown passes to a young kid from southern California who would become one of the best young home run hitters in the world: The Florida Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton.
(Here's a story onCrist's one season in Lawrence
from last Sunday.)
This is where it gets a little confusing. When Crist was the blue-chip quarterback at Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, Calif., Giancarlo Stanton was his star wideout. Except he wasn’t Giancarlo then, he was just Mike. Or to his friends... Mikey, the three-sport hoss who probably could have played receiver at Southern California if he wasn't destined to his light-tower home runs.
These days, Stanton is tearing it up as an All-Star right fielder for the Marlins; on Monday, he was selectedthe National League player of the week
after hitting five home runs in seven games. For the season, he’s batting .291 with 29 homers in 101 games despite missing time after undergoing knee surgery in July.
“He could have played football, baseball (or) basketball, and been very successful at it,” Crist said earlier this month, when the topic of Stanton came up. “(He) had Division I offers in all three sports. But obviously, chose to go the baseball route.”
Crist was a grade behind Stanton in high school but is actually slightly older than his old teammate. (Crist will turn 23 in October; Stanton’s birthday is in November.) In one story, Crist famously (at least around Notre Dame High School) connected with Stanton on a game-winning touchdown pass in the season opener of Stanton’s senior season. And the good friends also spent time playing basketball together, too, before Crist gave up the sport to concentrate on football.
Crist, as you might have guessed, has followed Stanton’s career closely. So about that name. (Hey, we were curious.)
After breaking into the big leagues in 2010 at age 20 and spending two seasons in the majors as “Mike” ... Stanton announced during the offseason that he would now be going by Giancarlo. Wait, what?
“No,” Crist said, smiling. “He’ll always be Mikey to me.”