Baseball Trumps Economics Right Now for Kernels’ Larson

By Jeff Johnson, Reporter

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By James Steward

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Francis Larson was put on the spot and asked what the United States needs to do to get its economy going again. It seemed an especially appropriate question on a day when the stock market tanked.

“Maybe more baseball games,” the Cedar Rapids Kernels catcher lightheartedly replied. “Maybe we should play more games, so everyone can go out and watch them. I don’t know. There are a lot of things. If everybody’s working, then everything works out well.”

Larson is one of the newest members of the Kernels, a kid whose story goes beyond the diamond. Well beyond it.

The University of California-Irvine’s career home-run leader, the 23-year-old catcher was drafted in the 22nd round last year by the Angels but ended up in England instead of the minor leagues. A Magna Cum Laude graduate, he spent a year pursuing his Master’s Degree at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

“I just needed to do it,” Larson said. “I needed to go and see what life was like pursuing this academic goal of mine. I just had to do it. I wouldn’t have a free conscience (otherwise).

“Once I kind of experienced what I needed to experience, and learned what I needed to learn, and really be exposed to some things I’d never been exposed to, academically and internationally, I thought I could come back and play.”

Which he has done. The Angels were still interested in him enough to sign him. Larson played 15 games in Rookie ball before getting a promotion July 23 to the Kernels.

“The week I felt satisfied was the week I came back (to baseball),” said Larson, who works on his thesis when he’s not at the ballpark. “I had to kind of relearn how to play. What’s weird is the hitting came back real fast, but I really had to relearn how to throw a baseball. I hadn’t picked up a ball in like, I don’t know, 10 months.”

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