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Reliever O'Day a true renaissance man

Reliever O'Day a true renaissance man

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SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Darren O'Day, renaissance man and Rangers reliever, decided he wanted to go to medical school.

This was after working as an assistant to a veterinarian, after getting cut from the University of Florida baseball team and before he worked as bouncer in a Gainesville, Fla., bar while studying for the law school entrance examination. Also before he bought a book off the Internet on how to run your own car wash.

"Those 24-hour car washes are making money hand over foot," O'Day explained on Thursday morning, while describing how a guy who took both the medical school and law school entrance exams ended up pitching in the Major Leagues.

"I like a lot of different stuff," O'Day said. He was in his last year at the University of Florida, while taking classes like golf and scuba diving, that he decided he was going to medical school.

"I went to college for five years but I could have graduated in three," said O'Day, who did get his degree in animal biology, played baseball and was a three-year Academic All-District performer. "But one day I was sitting in my animal husbandry class and started thinking about going to medical school."

So he took the MCAT and scored a 31. That put him in the mid-80s percentile.

By this time O'Day had re-invented himself as a side-arming reliever for the Florida baseball team and was a non-scholarship closer on a team that went to the College World Series. So O'Day, who had picked up his sidearm delivery in a summer beer league after his freshman year, was going to play professional baseball.

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He did not even apply to medical school, though his scores were good enough to get him into a good one.

"Maybe not the elite schools but a good medical school," O'Day said. "But I talked to the dean of the medical school and he told me that if I applied to medical school, got accepted and didn't go, I would never be accepted again. That's because acceptances are so hard to get. It's very competitive."

O'Day wanted to play baseball. Of course most Major League players are usually drafted, but not O'Day. Nobody took him, so he signed with the Angels as a free agent on May 29, 2006.

He did pretty well that first year, putting up eight saves and a 2.63 ERA in 31 games out in Orem, Utah, and Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Then he went back home to Florida and ran into a buddy who was headed for law school.

"We were talking about the entrance exams," O'Day said. "He was telling me that the LSAT was harder than the MCAT. I said, 'No way.'"

There was only one way to prove it. O'Day took the LSAT.

"It's just a logic test," O'Day said. "You really can't study for it."

He did study some.

"When I was working as a bouncer in a bar in the offseason, I'd bring a book with me and read it for an hour," O'Day said.

This is a guy who spent two weeks studying for the MCAT. Some people study for years and pay people thousands of dollars. Not O'Day. As for the LSAT?

"I got a higher score on that than I did on the MCAT," he said proudly.

He still wasn't interested in law school, although it might have been nice if he one day decided to become a sports agent. But you don't need a law degree to run a car wash.

"I don't think I can spend all that time in the library reading books and writing memos," O'Day. "I don't know if that fits my personality."

Actually, if he hadn't found his niche as a side-arming reliever who had a 1.94 ERA for the Rangers last year, O'Day might be working toward becoming a plastic surgeon. He spent his last year at Florida shadowing surgeons and saw quite a few actual surgeries. He seems fascinated by plastic surgery.

"If you brought somebody off the streets, I don't think people know how violent liposuction is," O'Day said. "It's like the guy is vacuuming. Liposuction is pretty disturbing. A tummy tuck is pretty grotesque. It looks great when you're done but the actually surgery is pretty ugly.

"The face lift was amazing. They drill holes in your skull, put anchors in the holes, pull the skin up and tack it to the anchors."

And the nose job?

"They stick a chisel up your nose if they're taking the hump out of the bridge of the nose," O'Day said. "They stick the chisel up there and hit it with a small hammer. They just chip the bone away. That sound really bothered me. But I'd have to get over it if I was going to make a career of it."

He's probably not going to do that. If he keeps posting a sub-two ERA, he's going to have a long career as a reliever. Of course, there are players who have done both.

Former Rangers pitcher George "Doc" Medich went to medical school while playing baseball. He twice went into the stands to save a fan who was having a heart attack. Dr. Bobby Brown is a renowned Fort Worth heart surgeon, who studied for his medical degree while playing for the Yankees.

"I don't know if I could handle such a time commitment to both things, playing baseball and pursuing a medical degree," O'Day said.

Especially if he is going to run that car wash.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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