March 30, 2012
By Derrick Fazendin-
For the Maggi Family one thing has always been clear: Baseball is number one and everything else falls second. The three Maggi brothers, Drew, Beau, and Joe, might as well have been born on a baseball diamond. They've gone through the ranks together, as they played little league ball together then all went on to become stars on Phoenix Brophy Prep's high school baseball team. As similar as the trio is, Joe has always tended to be a little different, being the youngest of the three.
The next step for Joe looked as if it would be as easy as the others, with both Drew and Beau eventually deciding to play college baseball at Arizona State. Drew was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates organization 2008 and Beau is currently a sophomore catcher at Arizona State University. Naturally, Joe was the next to go.
"Well you know that was always the plan," said Maggi. "All we've ever known is Sun Devil baseball, but sometimes you have to make the best decision for yourself."
But for Joe, that decision wasn't to become a Sun Devil. In fact, it was the exact opposite.
"Wait you're going to Arizona, as in the Wildcats?! That's kind of what my brothers said when I told them," said a smiling Maggi. "Everyone was definitely really surprised, but it actually the decision wasn't that hard for me though. Coach (Andy) Lopez told me what the mission was at Arizona, and I was all in.
Not only did Maggi decide not to become a Sun Devil, but he chose to go their in-state rival down in Tucson, adding more fuel to what's already become one of the nastiest rivalries in college baseball.
"Joe (Maggi) may tell you that was an easy decision for him, but heck I `ll be honest, even I was surprised when he told me he was coming to Arizona," said Arizona head coach Andy Lopez.
The decision came at the end of last spring when Maggi and coach Lopez sat down and talked in person for the first time.
"I told him, come on let's switch it up a bit," said Lopez. " Let's scare your parents a little bit, come to Arizona. This is the place you go to win championships; we have a new field, new facilities, great weather, and a great team in place. Not only that, but you don't want to be that close to your parents anyway."
Not only did Maggi choose to attend Arizona, but he's already worked his way into the starting lineup, thanks to his .340 batting average, a batting average that is 17 points higher than his brother Beau's .323 clip.
The Wildcats and Sun Devils won't square off for the first time until April 17th up in Tempe, but the matchup has not failed to cross Maggi's mind.
"I'm not going to lie, I'm extremely excited to play (ASU)," said Maggi. "I mean why wouldn't I? They're extremely good, they're our rivals, I'm playing against my brother. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't thought about it."
Maggi is just one of three freshman in Arizona's starting lineup, and his bat and baseball IQ are both a big reason why.
"The kid's not only a good player, but a smart one," said Lopez. "Ironically, those are things learned from his family. Hopefully he can use those skills against ASU a little bit this year. Boy, wouldn't that be something."
As far as the Maggi parents are concerned, the longer they have to wait for the rivalry matchup, the better.
"We've already had a big family discussion about it," said Maggi. "Mom and Dad basically said they're just going to root for the home team, so when ASU comes here I'll get their support, but when we go to Tempe I guess they'll be cheering against me, technically. I mean it's all in good fun, but they're never happy when they're forced to pick a side, that's for sure."
When it's all said and done, both teams will compete for the 2012 Pac-12 championship up until the very end. As interesting and intriguing as the Maggi storyline is, Joe knows the real story consists of something much bigger than himself.
"This Arizona vs. ASU thing, Maggi vs. Maggi thing is absolutely going to be cool, but really it doesn't mean anything if we don't accomplish what we want to as a team this year," said Maggi. "There's only one goal this year, and it's not even to beat ASU. The goal is Omaha; it's as simple as that. Let's get to Omaha."