PRO BASEBALL WOULD HAVE TO WAIT : BRUIN CHOSE `SENSIBLE' PATH TO HIS DREAM.
In the fall of 1994, UCLA baseball coach Gary Adams was a nervous wreck waiting for freshman recruit Troy Glaus to attend his first college class. It was an around-the-clock vigil. The San Diego Padres were offering a $300,000 signing bonus. Would Glaus take the money? Would he go to school?
``He was a guy who had us on the edge of our seats all the time,'' Adams said. ``It was one of those things we had to pinch ourselves each day he didn't sign.''
In the end, Glaus, perhaps the most prized prep baseball recruit in California, turned down the money, put off a pro career for three years and enrolled at UCLA. His decision has led to the fulfillment of another childhood dream: Playing for the U.S. Olympic baseball team.
``The chance to play in the Olympic Games is something you get once in a lifetime,'' Glaus said.
From the time he was a young boy growing up in Chatsworth, he had one goal in mind. ``All he's ever wanted to be since he was 4 years old was a major-league baseball player,'' his mother, Karen Jensen, said.
But when the first chance came to become a pro baseball player, Glaus passed. His heart said yes. But his mind knew otherwise.
``He made a very sensible decision,'' Jensen said. ``I was real proud of him. It's real hard when you're 17 and they offer you your dream and a bucket of money.''
Said Glaus: ``It was going to be a real big adjustment that I wasn't ready for. If change was going to happen, I wanted it to be as slow as possible.''
At UCLA, he has continued to develop his skills. As a freshman, he hit .258 with 12 home runs and 39 RBI. This past season, he batted .352 with 16 home runs and 50 RBI. He played shortstop, third base and first base. This summer, he has been one of the U.S. team's top hitters on its exhibition tour.
The 6-foot-5 Glaus learned the game at the Chatsworth Junior Baseball League. He'd play on teams with older players because he was usually taller than those his same age and loved competition. He possessed the size, the agility, the strength and the enthusiasm to succeed.
In 1987, he moved with his mother to Carlsbad near San Diego. At Carlsbad High School, he was an All-American shortstop and hit 20 home runs in four years. The pro and college scouts raved about him.
``He's a Hall of Fame-type player,'' Adams said. ``He's just an awesome talent. We're talking about hitting for an average, hitting for power, a strong arm, good hands, good feet. There's no buts about Troy. He's a team player. He's matured so much.''
Glaus' father and many of his relatives still live in the San Fernando Valley. They were frequent visitors to Troy's UCLA games. Glaus also remains a celebrity of sorts in Carlsbad.
``When I go anywhere, nobody asks how I am. It's, `How's the kid doing?' '' Jensen said.
The kid is doing just fine.
PROFILE Age: 19
Position: Third base
Schools: UCLA, Carlsbad High
Fast facts: Hit .352 with 16 home runs and 50 RBI as a sophomore at UCLA; was the highest draft pick of 1994 (second round, Padres) not to sign.
When to Watch Pool play: July 20 vs. Nicaragua; July 22 vs. South Korea; July 24 vs. Italy; July 25 vs. Japan; July 27 vs. Austalia; July 28 vs. Cuba
Playoffs: Aug 1
Medal games: Aug 2
BASEBALL Of the 20 U.S. team members that played in the 1984 Olympic ballgames at Dodger Stadium, 17 went on to varied success in the major leagues. They include: Don August, Scott Bankhead, Will Clark, Mike Dunne, Gary Green, Chris Gwynn, John Hoover, Barry Larkin, Shane Mack, John Marzano, Oddibe McDowell, Mark McGwire, Pat Pacillo, Cory Snyder, B.J. Surhoff, Billy Swift and Bobby Witt.
The three players that never made it? Sid Akins, Flavio Alfaro and Bob Caffrey.
5 Photos, 3 Boxes
Photo: (1) Troy Glaus, who batted .352 with 16homers and 50 RBI this season, decided in 1994 to forgo a Padres contract to play for UCLA.
Tom Mendoza / Daily News
(2) Troy Glaus
(3-5) THROUGH THE YEARS
1984: Star player as a 7-year-old for the minor league Yankees of the Chatsworth Junior Baseball League. It was also the year the Olympic Games baseball competition was held at Dodger Stadium
1991: Freshman shortstop at age 14 for Carlsbad High School. Went on to hit 20 career home runs and make All-America honors.
1996: Played third base, shortstop and first base in helping UCLA reach the NCAA Central II Regional finals.
Box: (1) Profile (see text)
(2) When to Watch (see text)
(3) BASEBALL (see text)