Stanton's father is Puerto Rican. Michael grew up in the Southern California town of Pacoima, California (Ritchie Valens' hometown). Giancarlo is one-quarter African-American, one-quarter Puerto Rican, and half-Irish. But his parents just liked the Italian name Giancarlo. Now it is his mark of distinction—pronounced zhon-CAR-low.
He and his father, Mike Sr., would sneak onto the baseball field at a neighborhood church for batting practice. As Dad grooved fastballs, Stanton simply aimed for the stars, because the field hand no fence. "I just tried to hit it as far as I could," Mike said. His parents were both postal workers. They were divorced when he was 10 years old.
Stanton was asked when he first knew he wanted to play pro baseball: "When I was 10 or 11. I remember I was on the Cardinals, I was No. 25, I was on first base. I always tried to be Mark McGwire and hit homers like he did. I was kind of following his race, too, when he was trying to break the record.
Giancarlo said that at the end of his sophomore year of high school he was just 5-foot-11. But he was at 6-foot-4 by the time his junior year started.
In 2007, Stanton's senior year at Notre Dame Academy in Sherman Oaks, California, he committed to the University of Southern California.
Giancarlo was a three-sport star at Notre Dame Academy and widely regarded as the school's best such athlete since former big league outfielder Jorge Piedra. Stanton is considerably bigger than Piedra and was recruited by Southern Cal (and then-coach Pete Carroll) as a wide receiver/defensive back, as well as for his power-hitting ability on the baseball field. While UNLV offered Stanton a football scholarship and a chance to walk on to play baseball, USC wanted him on a baseball ride, with a chance to walk on in football. It became a moot point, because Mike got drafted by and signed with the Marlins (see below).
During the winter before 2008 spring training, Baseball America rated Stanton as 9th-best prospect in the Marlins' organization. Then, in the offseason before 2009 spring training, the magazine had Mike up to second best prospect in the Marlins' farm system, behind only OF Cameron Maybin. And in the winter before 2010 spring camps opened, they had Stanton as the #1 prospect in the Marlins' organization.
In 2008, Stanton easily led the South Atlantic League in home runs (39), extra-base hits (68), total bases (286) and slugging percentage (.611).
Mike is an exciting player—worth the price of admission. He runs out ever ball, never letting the score of the game keep him from playing his hardest. He has the presence of a Grady Sizemore, Derek Jeter, or David Wright—intelligent, well-spoken and respectful. During games you will find him at the home plate end of the dugout studying everything, taking notes.
Stanton has a strong work ethic. He is willing to work to improve even in the most humid conditions, even though his excellent talent and ability will already allow him to be a success. He is intelligent, inquisitive and driven. And he never lets the hype go to his head.
In 2010 spring training, NFL coach Bill Parcells gave Stanton the nickname "Big Worm."
Stanton finished second in the SL in home runs—despite playing just 53 Double-A games before the Marlins called him up on June 6. At the time, his 21 homers led the minors. At the end of the season, Baseball America rated Mike as #1 prospect in the Southern League for 2010.
On June 8, 2010, Stanton made his Major League debut, going 3 for 5 with two runs scored. His father was in attendence to watch the Marlins lose to the Phillies 10-8 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.
On June 18, 2010, Mike's first MLB home run was a grand slam with a bat he borrowed from teammate Dan Uggla.
In Stanton's rookie season (2010), he matched a Marlins franchise record with five hits in a game. He also became the second Marlin ever to have five hits and four RBIs in the same game. Gary Sheffield did it on September 17, 1995 in Colorado.
The name on Stanton's nameplate in the clubhouse is "Giancarlo" Stanton. Giancarlo is Stanton's birth name, but he has gone by Mike since he was a child. Giancarlo is also on his glove. (April 2011)
His Mom calls him Cruz. Teammates call him Bigfoot. Most baseball fans know him as Mike Stanton. He likes them all, but with spring training cranking up and Stanton touted as a future home-run champion, he said he prefers Giancarlo, which is actually his middle name.
For the first time, that's the way he's identified on the Marlins' roster. His full name is a sonorous mouthful: Giancarlo Cruz Michael Stanton.
Giancarlo was asked what some of the important lessons he's learned from playing baseball. "Not to think too much, not to jump to conclusions too much. It's a failure game; you fail the majority of the time—more than you are technically successful. Just patience—it's always a thing that you battle with and something you need to learn, but it will come," Stanton said in February 2013.
Alex Kim didn't give it much thought when he parked his car at the D-backs' spring training facility in March 2013. When he returned, though, he found his windshield was busted on the driver's side, thanks to a Giancarlo Stanton batting practice home run, hit during Team USA's final tuneup before the start of the World Baseball Classic.
"I was a little upset," Kim said. "My first reaction was I have to pay for a windshield that I didn't break."
A couple of Kim's co-workers suggested he talk to the good folks from Safelite, an auto glass company that happens to sponsor the D-backs. Kim called, and the company volunteered to replace the windshield for no cost.
The story doesn't end there. Following a rigorous weight-lifting session in the home clubhouse, Stanton graciously agreed to meet with Kim and sign the windshield.
"It was pretty tough, trying to get up underneath," Stanton said of trying to get the right angle. "But it was fun."
Kim's ordeal concluded with the Safelite staff replacing the windshield right there, on site. Only one question remained: what was he planning to do with his somewhat bulky keepsake?
"I guess make a coffee table out of it," Kim said. "It's a great talking piece. I'm going to tweet it, Facebook it. This is defintely a moment I'll never forget."
In July 2013, Stanton was one of 21 athletes who posed nude and answered questions about his body and exercise habits for ESPN the Magazine. Stanton and Mets pitcher Matt Harvey were the only MLB players featured.
"It was fun," Stanton said. "It was about eight hours straight. You can't eat much. Then you'd get a little bloated."
Stanton's photos included shots of the slugger being splashed with water, painted gold from head to toe, holding a bat above his head, and carrying a large globe in a pose inspired by character Atlas of Greek mythology.
Stanton is of Irish, African-American, and Puerto Rican descent.
When you're a buff 6-foot-6, 250-pounder and belt a baseball as far as anyone on the planet, people take notice. Giancarlo clearly stands out. Not just because of his massive stature and his threat at the plate, but because he is looked upon to be an example.
The word "leader" to Stanton is empty if it is not backed by action. Stanton has been tabbed as one of the leaders in Miami's clubhouse. "A leader isn't self proclaimed," Stanton said. "I shouldn't be answering if I'm a leader. You're a leader because of the person you are and how you carry yourself. Not by your performance or all that. You may be looked up to because of your performance, but you're not a leader just by that. There are other things that go into it." What Stanton has been doing is speaking up when he has to. He isn't normally a big vocal guy, but the right fielder is telling teammates what he feels needs to be said.
"I'm more vocal, for sure, about things," Stanton said. "I'm not vocal about myself, I'm vocal about what we do. I like helping from what knowledge I have. You help out. You've got to be more vocal. If you see someone's swing [is off], don't step on toes, but say, 'Hey, I did that too.' Or you help with ground balls in the outfield, or if someone is not doing what they're supposed to, take care of it." (Frisaro - mlb.com - 3/06/14)
Walk-Up Music: Stanton walks up to “Lord Knows” by Drake, as the rapper seemingly is warning pitchers, “It’s your worst nightmare . . . ”
In 2014, LeBron James' exit from the Miami Heat to the Cleveland Cavaliers has removed arguably the biggest name in sports from South Florida.
"That's huge," Stanton said. "Obviously, it's the biggest thing in sports, for a while. It takes a lot of guts to do that. I know he wanted to go home. It means a lot more to do that, and win in a place you grew up, rather than just one of the teams you ended up on."
The Marlins feel they are an up-and-coming team, and Stanton is the squad's biggest star, and now perhaps the most imposing athlete in South Florida. But before Stanton feels he is the face of sports in South Florida, he points out that the Marlins have to do their part.
"We've got to start winning," he said. "Let's see it. We've got to be something now. I don't know what the future is for the Heat in terms of that." Stanton never met James, but he attended a number of Heat games and enjoyed watching one of the all-time greats. "I never really got to see [Michael] Jordan in his prime," Stanton said. "It was something I wanted to make sure I went and watched LeBron every time I could. I can now look back at it and say, 'I saw the best player in the world multiple times.'"
Being among the stars is something Stanton can certainly get used to. The Marlins' slugger, who wowed with his 510-foot blast in the 2014 Gillette Home Run Derby, enjoyed the All-Star festivities at Target Field in Minneapolis.
"That's what we strive for," Stanton said. "You want to be there every year."
To be a perennial star, Stanton says he must maintain his strong preparation and his understanding about what it takes to play at such a high level.
"No one was given that opportunity to be there," Stanton said. "Everyone earned it with their play and with their years prior. For me, his towering upper-deck blast in the first round of the Derby. More people have talked about that shot more than the fact Oakland's Yoenis Cespedes won the event.
"It seems like I almost won the thing, with everyone talking about that," Stanton said. "It was cool with the crowd. Everyone kind of paused and stood up. It started getting loud after I hit that. That's when I really got into it. I was like a kid again, having fun in the backyard." (Joe Frisaro MLB.com, 7/18/2014)
August 27, 2014: Speculation is coming at a rapid rate, but there is one constant about Giancarlo Stanton's stance when it comes to questions about his future. The Marlins slugger is dealing in the here and now. Anything else must wait.
Giancarlo wasn't leaning one way or the other about if he is interested in a multi-year deal with the Marlins. He was very consistent on this point, making it clear before 2014 Spring Training that he was taking a wait-and-see approach.
More speculation surfaced when Stanton was quoted in a story by Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports as saying: "Five months doesn't change five years."
That comment was taken as Stanton wants out of Miami. So Stanton clarified what he meant to Marlins beat reporters. He said he was summing up his mindset from when he was first called up in 2010 to now. There have been tough times, including three straight last-place finishes, plus a 100-loss season in 2013. Stanton says that doesn't mean he is unhappy in Miami or that he doesn't believe the organization can't become an attractive place to play. "That does not mean there's more bad to come," Stanton said. "That does not mean there's more good to come."
Stanton is being careful with his words because he doesn't want to come across as saying he wants to stay long term or leave. That topic is for another day.
The Marlins are expected to present Stanton's agent, Joel Wolfe, with a multi-year offer. If no extension is finalized, Stanton will be arbitration-eligible through 2016. The Marlins have no interest in trading the NL MVP candidate, even if a multi-year contract isn't reached.
"We're here," Stanton said. "Were in a good spot. This is where we are now. There is no, 'Am I staying forever, am I leaving forever?' There is no answer to that." (Joe Frisaro - MLB.com - 8/27/2014)
With the severity of the injuries sustained from taking an 88-mphMike Fiers fastball on the left side of his face, Stanton understands his situation could have been much worse. Giancarlo did suffer a fracture to his orbital bone, but it didn't impair his vision.
"You hear about people losing their eye, or you lose vision," he said. "My jaw can be broken. I can lose as many teeth. As long as I'm able to see, that's the big career thing."
"I've wondered about my next at bat," Stanton said. "I think I'm in a great mental state for what has gone on. But to be able to be back into the box, and in competition, I'm not quite sure. I think when we decide the protection that will be on, I'll have more reassurance wearing that. I don't know."
For days after the incident, Stanton and Fiers exchanged some text messages. "He said, obviously, it wasn't on purpose," Stanton said. "He said how sorry he was. It's been tough to sleep the first few nights and stuff. It was a good message."
The Marlins have kept Stanton in their thoughts throughout, and have hung his No. 27 jersey in their dugout. "That was awesome, too. That was really cool," Stanton said. "I've seen it done before, but you never think your jersey would be there. The support from the team has been unbelievable."
Jason Heyward, who wears a protective guard on his helmet after being hit in the face by a pitch, also reached out to the Marlins star. Heyward gave Stanton advice on what kinds of foods he could be eating, as well as some words of encouragement. (Frisaro - mlb.com - 9/18/14)
September 2014: Stanton received the Marlins' MVP award for the third time in his career. The All-Star hit 37 homers, which tied a career high set in 2012, and knocked in a career-high 105 RBIs before being struck in the face by a pitch on Sept. 11. He also drew 94 walks, stole 13 bases and scored 89 runs.
October 25, 2014: Stanton was named the 2014 winner of the Hank Aaron Award, given annually to the most outstanding offensive performer in each league.
Nov. 4, 2014: Giancarlo was the 2014 NL Outstanding Player of the Year award-winner, as voted on via the Players Choice Awards.
January 2015: Stanton was chosen to be a judge for the "Miss Universe" contest.
Giancarlo was on the field at Marlins Park in a different capacity on February 16, 2015. The two-time All-Star was a guest coach during a fast-pitch RBI softball game for girls 18 and under.
Stanton and Marlins reliever A.J. Ramos each assisted for the seven-inning game, won, 8-7, by Team Ramos. The event helped launch Miami's Ayudan Caravan Week, which concludes with the annual Winter Warm-Up at Marlins Park. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has made connecting with youth a high priority.
"These days, it's video games and on your phone all day," Stanton said. "You've got to be outside, playing baseball, and sports in general. But we want to influence baseball into the younger generation."
Watching the players in the RBI game reminded Stanton not to forgot his upbringing. "Obviously, we can't be here every time," he said. "But it is a good place to start and to show we have not forgotten. We're not just playing in the big leagues and then forget how we got here, or the steps that it took, which included youth baseball." (Frisaro - mlb.com - 2/16/15)
February 2015: Stanton became the first ever body-painted athlete to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated. It was a 12-hour process to complete the body painting before the photo session.
Stanton's not overly impressed either. He shops at Walmart, partly for the people-watching but mostly because, as he asks, "Where else can you get all your supplies in one place?"
Giancarlo rarely shows emotion, an it has become a contest for teammates to detect it when he does. Every once in awhile, they claim, when he hit one that lands in a faraway place—like a camera well, high above the wall in dead center—he'll betray the thick bark of his professionalism with a slight smile.
Stanton was selected to start in the 2015 All-Star Game.
2015: If Giancarlo Stanton is to be the face of the Miami Marlins, fans will have to look behind the customized mask he's been approved to wear, after a cringe-inducing beanball ended the season of Major League Baseball's highest paid player in 2014. The black, carbon-fiber face protector features a "G" that covers the left side of Stanton's face.
June 6, 2015: Remember all those eyebrows that were raised when the Marlins announced during the offseason that Stanton was signed to a 13-year, $325 million deal? Well he is only 25, and he already is the Marlins' all-time home runs leader.
The real debate is whether Stanton sold himself short, although he could opt out after 2020 and he would have made $107 million for six years with a chance to step out and test the free-agent market at the age of 30. Hey, at 25 he is creating quite a legacy. His 172 home runs are a Marlins franchise record. (T Ringolsby - MLB.com - June 6, 2015)
After a physically and mentally draining season, Stanton is doing what he normally does after eight months of baseball: He's getting away for a few weeks. Far away. Stanton, Marlins reliever A.J. Ramos, and Angels righthander Ricky Nolasco, a former Marlin, are vacationing in Brazil, where they posted on social media pictures of a mural they had painted in honor of Jose Fernandez. From Brazil, the trio plans to travel to other parts of the world, including Europe.
After the Marlins wrapped up their 79-82 season at Washington on Oct. 2, Stanton talked briefly about what he intended to do during his October vacation.
"Not say a word about baseball," Stanton said. "Not say a word about any physical activities for a little bit."
From the baseball side, he got back into a playing routine. But from a personal side, he was glad to be with his teammates, especially after the tragedy that claimed the lives of Fernandez and his two friends.
"If I wasn't out there [playing] during that time, and I could have been, I would have never forgiven myself," Stanton said. "I'm just glad I didn't let it go as if the season was over."
Overall, Stanton summed up his season in one word: "Brutal." But he was encouraged with how he felt physically and what he was working on at the plate during the final few weeks. "I like what came out of it," he said. "I like how I'm feeling." (J Frisaro - MLB.com - Oct 18, 2016)
January 25, 2017: Stanton committed to play for team USA in the World Baseball Classic.
January 28, 2017: One of the most feared sluggers in baseball says he's down to help Tim Tebow live his major league dreams ... with Giancarlo Stanton telling TMZ Sports he'd give TT the tutelage he needs to make it.
Tebow wasn't invited to the Mets spring training camp ... a major blow to his chances of suiting up for the big league squad anytime soon. Giancarlo says Tebow probably has a lot more work to do before he's ready to really succeed in the sport ... and he's totally down to help Timmy do some of that work. (TMZ Sports)
2017: Stanton will represent the USA in the World Baseball Classic.
March 24, 2017: Riding the adrenaline of winning the World Baseball Classic title, Giancarlo Stanton returned to Marlins camp ready for the next step -- the regular season. Stanton said the World Baseball Classic experience was the most fun they've ever had on a baseball field.
"Absolutely. Absolutely," Stanton said. "Besides being in Little League and wearing my jersey all day for a doubleheader. Yeah, for sure.
"Just the atmosphere," Stanton said. "Being around so many future Hall of Famers, All-Stars, MVPs. Seeing their work for two weeks, and just the atmosphere that all the countries brought. Everyone came and represented their country and represented their talent to show on the field in whichever way they thought was fit. I loved it." (J Frisaro - MLB.com - March 24, 2017)
We caught up with the Marlins slugger to find out just what he eats to fuel all of those home runs.
MLB.com: How do you monitor your diet?
Stanton: I don't count calories. I just try to see how hungry I am, see when was the last time I ate, because sometimes you get busy and you forget to eat or forget to catch up here and there. It depends on the day, on how much work I've done that day, if it's cold or hot or whatever. Vegetables and vitamins are the most important things to me, because it's easy to catch up on protein by drinking a shake.
MLB.com: What do you eat pre-workout?
Stanton: I don't lift early in the morning because I like to sleep, and I'm not too hungry in the morning, so I'll just do a nutritional shake or some protein when I wake up for breakfast. Something to make sure I have enough energy to get me through my workout, and then I'll have the meal post-workout. My favorite healthy meal would be salmon or grilled chicken and broccoli. I like broccoli and spinach, and that's about it for the green vegetables.
MLB.com: What do you eat pregame?
Stanton: I don't like to play feeling heavy or bloated, so if I'm hungry, I'll snack on fruit or granola. Usually I like fruit, because it feels like I didn't eat anything but I'm still full. But granola, that would be my go-to snack, with a bunch of cinnamon on it and raisins. It used to be Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Puffs, but that was before. Those were the days.
MLB.com: Has your diet changed over the years?
Stanton: I don't like to eat beef too often, unless it's grass-fed. And I don't eat beans.
MLB.com: What are your favorite cheat foods?
Stanton: On an off-day I'll eat whatever I want. My favorite cheat meals are Oreo shakes, Cinnabons and Kit Kats. Usually chocolate. And when I go home, my mom makes my old-school favorites. She always says, "Come over, I'll cook for you," and I say, "Don't cook, I'm in training!" She makes ranchera, which is a way of making beef with spices and salsa, and she makes my favorite potatoes. That's bad. I don't eat a lot of white potatoes. For carbohydrates, I'll eat sweet potatoes, rice or fruit. (Lindsay Berra - MLB.com.- April 12, 2017)
Like a giant that accidentally destroys entire cities with a single step, Giancarlo crushes baseballs at speeds and distances that should be impossible. His forearms are like tiny galaxies and his biceps are like mountain ranges. Frankly, Stanton is too strong for our world. He broke the Dodgers' fence!
He displayed that yet again as the Marlins played the Dodgers in May 2017. Though the ball evaded Stanton's reach when Joc Pederson blasted a home run in the fourth inning, the leap proved too much for the structural integrity of the fence. That should be covered in ballpark owner's insurance under "act of human giant." (Clair - mlb.com - 5/21/17)
June 2007: The Marlins drafted Stanton in the second round, out of Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, California. He signed with scout Tim McDonnell for a bonus of $475,000.
January 17, 2014: Stanton and the Marlins avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $6.5 million contract for 2014.
November 17, 2014: Giancarlo and the Marlins agreed to a mega-deal that will pay the slugger $325 million over 13 years.
The contract is very back-loaded. Stanton has an opt-out after six years. For the first six years, the Marlins have totaled $107 million, an average of "only" $17.8 million per season. The final seven seasons, he gets paid $218 million, or about $31 million per season. For Stanton, if the Marlins are not a top-notch team, he can bail/opt out on that money and sign with a better team.
The contract tops the $292 million, 10-year deal Miguel Cabrera agreed to with thet Tigers in March. Alex Rodriguez signed the largest previous deal, a $275 million, 10-year contract with the Yankees before the 2008 season.
The last time the historically thrifty Marlins spent big was before a poor 2012 season, the first in their new ballpark. Their 2014 payroll of $52.3 million was the lowest in the Majors.
On the way to the Big Deal: Stanton and his agent, Joel Wolfe, met with the Marlins' brass in Bungalow 10A of the Beverly Hills Hotel on November 6, 2014 in Stanton's native L.A.
Early in the meeting, club president David Samson—who was representing the team, along with Loria, Redmond, president of baseball operations Mike Hill and GM Dan Jennings—slid a piece of paper over to Stanton printed with the outline of contractual terms that were unprecedented in both length and value.
"I think they were thinking I was going to be like, 'Oh, well, sign me up!'" Stanton says. He wasn't.
"I put the paper down, and I was like, 'I'll tell you right now that numbers don't mean anything,'" he recalls. "If you think you're just going to pay me a bunch of money, and I'm going to go live my lavish lifestyle, come to the park and get my ass kicked every day, and go back to my lavish lifestyle, you got another thing coming.' I said that straight to their faces. I was angered."
Just a couple of weeks before he was hit by Mike Fiers' pitch, Stanton was asked if the Marlins' modest success in 2014 (they had climbed to .500, just 3 games out of a wild card spot) had done anything to erase the losing and the perceived broken promises he had so far experienced in Maimi.
"Five months," Stanton said ominously, "doesn't change five years."