Springer was very small for his age when he was 14 years old and wanting to play on the baseball team at Avon Old Farms School, an all-boys academy 12 miles west of Hartford, Connecticut.
So George's father came up with a workout program. His dad, also George, had been a late-bloomer in high school, and he was confident his son would follow the same path. But while Springer needed to get bigger, he also wanted to stay a baseball player, not develop into a power-lifter.
There were no heavy weights, there was no working until failure, no maxing out. Instead, Springer focused on repititions and staying flexible, a strength of his since he was 18 months old and practicing gymnastics with his mother, Laura Marie.
"My Mom had me involved with gymnastics until I was about 10, and it helped me tremendously with body control and body awareness," Springer said. "It taught me to understand my own strength."
In fact, Springer was known to do an Ozzie Smith-like back flip when he takes the field before Washington Huskies games.And by the time he was a junior at Avon Old Farms, Springer started to turn a corner. The workouts, coupled with a growth spurt and a diet consisting of six or seven meals a day, helped him grow more than a foot and add 100 pounds in a little more than two years. (Tyler Jett-Baseball America-7/13/10)
George's Dad played in the Little League World Series in 1976 (Forestville Little League; Bristol, Connecticut).
"He was a pitcher and an outfielder, and they finished fifth in the world," Springer said.
Both of Springer's parents, George Jr., and mother, Marie, graduated from UConn.
Springer's ability is boundless. He has true five-tool potential.
In 2008, the Twins chose Springer in the 48th round, out of Avon Old Farms High School. But he didn't sign.
Springer got a baseball scholarship to University of Connecticut which he honored instead of turning pro.
- Springer played college baseball for the Connecticut Huskies in the Big East Conference. At UConn, Springer was named to the 2009 Baseball America Freshman All-America First Team. As a junior, Springer was named Big East Player of the Year in 2011. He was named to a first team All-American by Perfect Game USA, Louisville Slugger and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, while being named a Second Team All-American by Baseball America.
In 2011, Springer became the highest selection in the MLB Draft in Connecticut baseball history when he was drafted by the Astros in the first round.
- In the summer of 2009, George played for the Wareham Gatemen in the Cape Cod League, hitting .261 with 3 homers and 25 RBI.
George is athletic as hell and is a very instinctive player. He is fundamentally sound and has an outstanding knowledge of the game he loves so much.
"It doesn't matter who's playing," Springer said. "If I am at my house, or at a friend's house, and I know a game is on, I'm watching it."
Springer says his favorite pregame meal is pasta.
His favorite dessert is cheesecake.
Music: Lil Wayne
Book: Harry Potter
TV Show: ESPN SportsCenter
Team: Boston Red Sox
- George used a Nike Pro Tradition glove at the University of Connecticut. He wore Nike Air Max cleats and swung a Nike Aero Fuse aluminum bat.
- In the spring of 2012, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Springer as the 3rd-best prospect in the Astros' organization, and then again in the offseason before 2013 spring training.
He moved up to #2 in the winter before 2014 spring camps opened, behind only Carlos Correa.
- In 2012, Springer finished sixth in the California League in hitting (.316) and fifth in both on-base percentage (.398) and slugging (.557).
- Springer's energy is infectious, and the Astros credit him with helping Delino DeShields, Jr. play harder after rooming with him in 2011 instructional league and 2012 spring training.
Astros manager Bo Porter said many times, when he was Houston's skipper, that Springer's game is reminiscent of Torii Hunter, and he thought it would be a good idea for Springer to latch onto him as a possible mentor.
"I told George, 'When you are a young Major League player, you want to kind of find someone that possesses the same skill set you possess, has played a high level and you want pick that person's brain,' " Porter said in March 2013. "That's why I put him in touch with Torii Hunter."
Springer grew up in Connecticut and actually met Hunter while he was playing at Double-A New Britain in the Twins' organization from 1997-98. He told his father he liked the way Hunter played the game, diving for balls and running into the wall to make a play if he had to.
"He's always been the guy who I look up to ever since," he said. "It's going to be a great honor to see him play again in person. I see the highlights of him all the time and he's obviously a fantastic player. He plays the game the right way."
In 2013, George became the first minor leaguer to post a 30-30 season since 2009. And with 37 homers and 45 steals, he nearly became the first 40-40 player in the history of the modern minor leagues. He had a huge year, hitting.303/.411/.600 with 68 extra-base hits and 83 walks between Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Oklahoma City.
And Springer won Most Exciting Player honors in both the Texas League and Pacific Coast League while adding three other TL awards.
However, Springer's propensity to swing and miss places him at greater risk to fall short of his ceiling.
Springer grew up playing for teams in the Northeast, where the tough winters and sometimes-frigid springs make high-quality baseball hard to come by. And although the lack of high-grade competition sometimes manifests itself into poor performances in the pros, that wasn’t the case with Springer.
“George is a student of the game,” Astros farm director Quinton McCracken said late in 2013. “He’s a very intelligent guy. He has a great work ethic and, as I mentioned, the intangibles. . . In my eyes and the organization’s eyes, he should go on to have a long, successful big league career.”
- George had a spectacular year in 2013, finishing with a combined 37 homers and 45 steals between Double-A Corpus Christi and Oklahoma City. Springer batted .303 with a .411 on-base percentage while slugging .600 with 37 homers, 45 steals and 83 walks between Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Oklahoma City en route to being named the Astros' Minor League Player of the Year.
Springer was at Oklahoma City and hitting well. He was told by interim RedHawks manager Tom Lawless on April 15, 2014 he was finally getting the call to the big leagues.
"I think I stared at him blankly and was like, 'What?'" Springer said. "Once it kind of set in, I put my head in my hands and was in shock. I was able to go call my Mom and Dad. I wasn't able to stay calm. It was an extremely emotional phone call for me."
"We often talk to him after a game, so when he called it was 'Georgie's on the phone,'" Marie Springer said. But this wasn't a typical phone call. "When he told me, my tears were immediate and sustained for a period of time," his father said. "In fact, he had to call me back because it took me a little while to get my composure. I'm overjoyed."
Astros manager Bo Porter talked to Springer and told him not to change a thing. Springer remembers some advice he received earlier in his life, about how to handle expectations. "The only way I can explain is my coach in school would always say, you want to be like a duck," he said. "You want to be calm above the water but underneath the feet are just kicking and going and going and going."
The only thing missing for George Springer III was his late grandfather, who taught his son to love the game. His grandfather died in 2006. When George Springer, Jr. took his son to a baseball game at Fenway Park when the boy was 4 years old, the dreams of playing professional baseball began.
"He has a passion for life, he has a passion for the game," Springer's Dad said of his son." (McTaggart - mlb.com - 4/16/14)
CLOSE FRIENDS IN MLB
During the offseason before 2014 spring training, Springer spent a month living with Mariners shortstop Brad Miller at his family home in Orlando, Florida. They renewed their friendship when the two teams met late in April 2014 to start a three-game series at Safeco Field.
Springer played on the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team in 2010 with Miller, who was a sophomore at Clemson at the time. The two became buddies and Springer contacted Miller over the winter about working out together in Florida.
"His sister plays softball at [the University of Central Florida], so he texted me and said, 'Hey, I'm going crazy in Connecticut with all this snow," Miller said. "'Do you want to get a place together for a couple months?' I said, 'Dude, I'm living at home. Come down.' My parents said it was fine. They love George. It just kind of worked out."
Springer was already headed to Florida for the Astros' Spring Training, so he just arrived early and hung out at the Miller's. "Yeah, it was me, my parents and George," Miller said. "It was like my brother, with my parents just taking care of us. It was fun to have somebody to train with and hit with and do all that stuff. It worked out good."
Said Springer, "His dad and mom are outstanding in that they took me in and I hung out with Brad and his parents every day from late December until Spring Training started. I was extremely fortunate for them to open up their home to me like that. It's always great to hang out with Brad. He is a grade A guy and we had some fun together."
But Miller professed to not having any dirt on the Mariners' new rookie rival, who already has been inserted into the Astros' cleanup role.
"No, he's pretty low maintenance," Miller said. "We got along great. We both pretty much just work out, hit, hang out. Just kind of low-key. He's a great guy and obviously he's pretty talented. To see him get called up already was pretty special. It's been fun.
"I texted him when he got his debut and got his first hit and everything. We've just been talking throughout the spring and stuff. He's definitely a close friend and we get along well. It's kind of fun to see him up here. He's another one of the Team USA guys from that group that got the call, so it's pretty sweet." (Johns & Cahill - mlb.com - 4/21/14)
There's a lot more to see from George Springer and Dexter Fowler, two talented Astros outfielders who grew to be best friends during the 2014 season.
"He's been everything, from a brotherly figure to a teammate," Springer said of Fowler at season's end when asked to reflect on the relationship. "If it weren't for him, I would be lost. He means the world to me. I think we've established a brother-brother type of relationship. It's going to be sad to not see him until spring training, but it'll be all right."
"George, he's a special guy. I feel like he's like my little brother," Fowler said at season's end. "I feel like I miss him when he's not out there. I look to my right or whatever, and he's not there, it's just weird. Him coming up and the things he does on the field and off the field."
The rookie and the veteran speak of each other as family. Fowler and wife Aliya had their first child this year, Naya, and Springer has become a de facto uncle.
"I had obviously seen him play and you know heard about him, and then I got here and then he kind of just took it upon himself to be the guy who's going to be here for me," Springer said. "There aren't enough words to describe how thankful I am for him and his wife."
Their time together extended well beyond the yard. Upon his arrival in the big leagues, Springer lived with Fowler briefly, and even after moving out, didn't move too far away. (Dec. 2014)
- Springer has a stutter. These days, it's not something people would necessarily notice. But in his youth, in his middle school and early high school days, it was pretty noticeable. Yet Springer never saw it as a problem. And please, don't ever call it an impediment.
"I've never seen it as an issue," said Springer, only two weeks into his Major League career. "I understand it makes me who I am. I've always had that mentality, even from a young age, when you're in school and a little more self-conscious of it then. But it didn't prohibit it me from being a kid and doing the stuff I wanted to do.
"It's not an issue, because it doesn't hold me back. Some people have blue eyes, some people have blond hair, some people don't. Some people stutter and some people don't. People who do have it have to deal with it just like those who don't [have to deal with other things]."
- Spend any time with George and it's easy to tell he's a high-energy, big-personality type of guy. He brings a 1,000-rpm mentality to his game—a big reason why he's one of the more exciting prospects in baseball.
Some people are just wired that way, with an ability to see the positive in what most would view as a burden. Springer clearly has that in his DNA, with some nurturing help from his parents, George II and Marie, when he was dealing with his childhood stutter. They created an environment in which it was very clear to Springer and his two younger sisters that the best thing anyone can do, stutter or not, is not pretend to be someone you're not.
"Life isn't always how you want it," Springer said. "Things aren't always going to go your way. I was always taught to have fun, enjoy life, and don't let anything I can't control stop me from being who I am. That's a big credit to my Mom and Dad, who instilled that in me from the time I was young. Enjoy every opportunity that you get." (Mayo - mlb.com - 4/28/14)
- "Springer's a dynamic young man," Astros owner Jim Crane said. "He's got a great swing. He's cut down on it a little bit and is making contact. He's a guy, when you look him in the eyes, you can tell he's a gamer and wants to play and doesn't seem to be nervous and is very talented." (5/30/14).
When Springer got to Minute Maid Park, someone had a message for him: "Hey George, you're on the cover of Sports Illustrated."
"It's an honor," Springer said. "As a kid, you always see Sports Illustrated. I'm happy about the article, about the team and the stuff that's been said about us as an organization."
The cover features a photo of Springer swinging in the Astros' rainbow uniforms from the 1970s. Above him reads, "Baseball's great experiment."
Springer said the team doesn't see it as an experiment. While he didn't go along with that line, he did like seeing the headline's prediction, "Your 2017 World Series Champs." (6/25/14)
George isn't looking for a "cure" for stuttering or some magic potion that can miraculously make it go away. Rather, he has one simple motivation as spokesman for Camp SAY, a camp for kids who stutter: He wants kids to understand that it's OK to stutter, and it should never take away from living a full, quality life.
Springer, who has had a stutter all of his life, held an All-Star bowling benefit in July 2015 at Lucky Strike in downtown Houston to raise funds for kids who want to attend the camp. Many of those kids were at the event, and they listened intently as the Astros right fielder passed along his words of wisdom: Don't let something you can't control dictate how you live your life.
"It's OK to be who you are," Springer said to the kids. "Don't let that stop you. Enjoy life and have fun. Don't let anyone tell you you can't do it, because you can. I'm proof. You're here. I'm here. You're an individual, you're going to grow up, you're going to enjoy your life. Don't let anything you can't control stop you."
The benefit, in conjunction with the George Springer Kids Fund, will help children in need attend Camp SAY. No child who qualifies and wants to attend the camp will be turned away, regardless of financial needs.
According to SAY (Stuttering Association for the Young), more than 70 million people stutter, including five percent of all young children, and approximately one in every 100 adults.
In Springer, the kids have an ally, someone who has been where they are, and who happens to also be a gifted athlete whose popularity in Houston has skyrocketed since joining the Astros early in 2014.
Springer, who is still in a cast after suffering a fractured right wrist during a game against the Royals a few weeks ago, didn't bowl, but he played the perfect host, mingling with the guests and showering the kids with plenty of extra attention.
"What's cool about this is you can tell this is something George is passionate about," Ryan said. "I applaud George for tackling this early in his career and then saying, 'I want to help kids, I want to show people that there's folks like me out there.'"
Springer, who now lives in Houston year-round, cited the popular and philanthropic J.J. Watt of the NFL's Houston Texans as the kind of community-minded athlete he aspires to be.
"That's your job," Springer said. "We wouldn't be here without the support of everybody else. There are guys in Houston right now like Watt—he's an icon here. When you're in the spotlight and people know who you are, you need to give back. You need to do things for the community first. Obviously your job is a sport, but also you have a responsibility to give back to kids and the whole community." (Footer - mlb.com - 7/20/15)
George makes plays that have the power to take your breath away, and sometimes they do, only he makes them almost routinely. In that way, he impacts way more than games. Teammates, fans and an entire franchise feed off them. These are moments that inspire and energize, that come to define a special season.
"He's our spark plug," said pitcher Dallas Keuchel, the 2015 American League Cy Young Award winner. "He comes to the park every day with a smile on his face."
Maybe that's why when the Astros discuss Springer in Spring Training 2016, with only 180 big league games under his belt, they do not begin in the obvious places: talent, speed, defense that's off-the-charts good. Nor do they begin with his poise or how comfortable Springer is when the lights are bright and the stakes high. Oh, they might mention that he carried Houston in those final few days of 2015 as the Astros won six of their last eight to clinch their first postseason berth in 10 years on the final day of the regular season.
When the Astros talk about Springer, they do not begin with the things that can be weighed, measured and touched. Instead, they talk about things only they can know. For instance, when Springer spent two months on the disabled list with a broken wrist in 2015, Astros manager A.J. Hinch asked him to remain in uniform in the dugout.
"I wanted his voice and his energy," Hinch said. "Those are important things to us. To see him in there getting on guys, getting on me, that's part of who we are as a team." Springer smiles when he hears this sort of thing.
"I understand that not everybody every day is going to be 100 percent—and I'm not either," he said. "If I can do anything to get somebody into the game emotionally, get 'em fired up, be positive, I'll do anything to help somebody's mood to affect how they play. If you're in a good mood, you'll probably have a higher chance to play better."
"He brings it every day," Hinch said. "He brings everything he has to the ballpark every day. He goes as hard and as strong as anybody on our team. That's not hard to do for a week at a time or even a month at a time. But to do it every single time he goes out on the field is pretty impressive. With the grind we go through, he never fails to have energy or passion."
In the clubhouse, they say similar things. "I try to copy the way he plays," second baseman Jose Altuve said. "He has one speed -- 100 mph."
"If I don't give 100 percent for the team, I'm not myself," he said. "Obviously, I don't want to hit a wall with my head. I have to be smart about it. But I'm not afraid of the wall. I'm going to go out and play, and whatever happens, happens. We know who we are. We know our style."
Every once in a while, a franchise gets really lucky to find a player who checks off every box. He's not only supremely talented, but he has a relentless drive and work ethic to be great. That's George Springer.
"I just believe this is truly a game, and you have to enjoy every second of it," he said. "There's a lot of things that happen in life you can't control. But I can control how I play and my attitude. I embrace it." (Justice - MLB.com - 3/21/16)
May 21, 2016: In their time as Astros teammates, George Springer and Jake Marisnick have developed a fun little ritual. A few hours before first pitch, they toss a football around. Marisnick took the pigskin out onto the infield at Minute Maid Park, ready to work up a sweat and have a good t . . . WAIT A MINUTE, IS THAT A DINOSAUR?
Springer and Marisnick's love for baseball and shenanigans is matched only by their love for dinosaurs. So Springer decided to spice up his pregame catch in a giant T-Rex costume. Great! All of his interests coming together. Except, well, while the T-Rex might excel at destroying giant fences, it's ability to catch footballs is ... limited.
Their manager, A.J. Hinch, could only shake his head.
"I sort of avoided seeing it, but it does not surprise me," he told MLB.com's Brian McTaggart. "He told me a few weeks ago he was ordering it and I thought he was kidding, but I guess he was not. It's George being George."
To Springer's eternal credit, he struggled forth, determined to somehow pull off the impossible. Maybe he can recruit the Mariners dinosaur for help. (B McTaggert - MLB.com - May 22, 2016)
Springer's sister Lena, is a softball pitcher for Ohio State University. (Intentional Talk - July 2016)
Springer's mother was a world class gymnast. (IT - July 2016)
A simple but important philosophy sums up why George and Laura Springer were named the 2016 Little League Parents of the Year.
"Being a parent is not a spectator sport," said George Springer Jr., father of the Houston Astros' outfielder. "To be a successful parent, you need to be involved in your kids' lives and always balance what is right for them."
With daughters Nicole and Lena on hand—son George III was busy playing right field for the Astros—the Springers were honored in an on-field ceremony just prior to the Little League World Series championship game..
"To be honored as a Parent of the Year by this organization that does so much for kids through volunteer work is an extraordinary award," George Jr. said. "But I have a confession: Little League has given us a lot more than we have given Little League. It has provided a safe haven for our children to play and a place to learn life skills."
Their dedication to, and involvement in, their kids' lives has certainly paid off for the Springer clan. Youngest daughter Lena is a pitcher for Ohio State University's softball team, which made the NCAA Super Regionals last year. Her big sister, Nicole, was an all-conference softball player at Central Connecticut State and now coaches both high school and college softball. Then, of course, there's George III, the 11th overall pick in the 2011 draft. He got his start in the Walicki Little League in New Britain, Conn., then moving on to an All-American career at the University of Connecticut. George Jr. actually played in the 1976 LLWS with a team from Forestville, Conn.
"Coming to Williamsport at that time was the most beautiful thing we had ever seen," he said. "That experience of hard work, discipline and overcoming challenges stayed with us."
George III's sisters revealed what life was like growing up in the Springer home.
"'We were very competitive with each other," Nicole said. "We'd say, 'You did this, but guess what—we're going to be better."
"As the youngest, it was a little different for me," said Lena. "I wanted to do everything my brother and sister could do. And we had some great Wiffle ball games in the living room and the backyard."
Like any other dedicated parents, the role of mom and dad was that of teacher, coach, cheerleader, chauffeur, cook and overall caregiver. Both George Jr. and Laura coached various youth teams throughout their kids' childhood, in addition to volunteering as league officials.
"It was a very, very busy time of our lives," Laura said. "It was also fun and exciting, and we made some great friends. Family balance is everything, and we tried to make sure in the context of playing baseball and softball, the notions of self-sacrifice and teamwork transferred off the field. We tried to teach them to be a better person today than they were the day before."
The Springers, who celebrated their 28th wedding anniversary in Williamsport in August 2016, insisted repeatedly that what they're most proud of as parents is the quality of person that each of their children has become. And talking about George III, their only kid who couldn't be here with them, they admitted their biggest thrill to this day is watching him come out of the dugout.
"We still get chills," George Jr. said with a smile. (Mike McCormick - MLB.com. - August 28, 2016)
2016 Season: Springer zoned out all the doubters in 2016, and in turn had the healthiest season in his Astros career. George showed that he is ready to contribute and stay healthy with a breakout season by playing all 162 games for the team. He set career-highs across the board statistically and continued to be a spark plug in the dugout in an overall disappointing season for the Astros. This does not mean George did not struggle, but he overall had a successful year.
The Beginning: Springer, like the rest of the team, struggled right out of the gate. Through April 15, he was only hitting .205 with a .589 OPS. He was able to turn it around after the 15th and become one of the best hitters on the team the rest of the first half. By the end of April, the Astros were 7-17, but Springer was hitting .278 and had a .340 on base percentage. He was a bright spot early on in the year.
All-Star Game Final Vote: The Astros outfielder was such a good contributor in the first half that he was a finalist for the All-Star Game’s Final Vote. In the first half of the season, he hit .262 and had raised his OPS to .832 after the rough start. He also supported his solid statistics with outstanding work in right field, continuing to show that he is one of the best in the league at that position.
His push to the All-Star Game did not end successfully, partially due to Michael Saunders, his main opponent, being on Toronto thus having whole country of Canada on his side. This Final Vote is also where the nickname “Super Springer” became well-known in the Astros’ community.
Final Push; Springer started out the second half a little slow, seeing his average drop to as low as .252. He still finished out the season strong and contributed in the push that kept the Astros competing until late September. He finished the season with a strong line in his third year, hitting .261 with 29 home runs (second on the team), 82 RBI, 29 doubles, and a .359 on base percentage.
Season overview: Overall for the season, the former first round pick was one of the top performers on the team. After the poor month of April, the team switched him to the leadoff spot. And that is one of the main reasons the team started succeeding. Hitting Jose Altuve third in the lineup with George leading off was a turning point for the Astros’ lineup. Even though the season for Springer was good, he still has areas he needs to improve on to take the next step. He needs to cut down on strikeouts, as he finished with 178 including many three-strikeout games. His base-stealing was also an issue, getting thrown out more than 50% of the time.
Next: Astros Center Field Renovations Is Not Just About the Money. Should those issues be resolved, he can become one of the bst players in the league. The future is exciting in Houston, and Springer is one of the main reasons. (**Statistics provided by Baseball Reference and MLB.com** )
June 2011: The Astros chose Springer in the first round of the draft, the 11th player chosen overall. And they signed him on the August 15 deadline for a $2.525 million bonus via scouts John Kosciak and Bobby Heck.
George was the Astros #1 pick because of his speed, power, and defensive tools.
- January `13, 2017: Springer and the Astros avoided arbitration and agreed on a one-year deal for $3.9 million.