Fred Pietila, Rocky Mountain News
John Stearns epitomizes what the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame is about. Stearns was born and raised in Denver, attended Thomas Jefferson High School, went on to a successful two-sport athletic collegiate career in football and baseball at the University of Colorado. He followed that with a productive major league baseball career that resulted in four All-Star game appearances. He is now pursing other goals in baseball and raising a family in Boulder.
“My initial response was I was very surprised and honored, coming at this time,” said Stearns. “My playing career over, but I have goals I want to reach in my profession.”
Stearns was a three-sport star at Thomas Jefferson and attended CU on a football scholarship. He earned all-Big Eight honors in football as a defensive back in 1972 when he was voted most valuable player on the Buff’s 8-4 Gator Bowl team. Stearns still holds the CU career interception record of 16.
He also gained all-Big Eight and All-American honors in baseball, the later coming in 1973 when he led the nation in home runs with 15. He was also the second choice overall by Philadelphia in the free agent draft of June 1973.
“It all came together within a month,” Stearns recalled. “I even got a 4.0 GPA that semester and don’t know that happened. I was named student-athlete of the year at CU.”
Stearns played just one major-league with the Phillies in 1974 before being traded to the New York Mets, where his career prospered. His career batting average was .260 in 810 games – all but one with the Mets. He was selected to play in the Major League All-Star Game in 1977, 1979, 1980 and 1982. In 1978, Stearns set at NL record for stolen bases (25) by a catcher.
Since his active days as a major league player ended in 1985, Stearns has coached and scouted for various major league teams, and managed at the minor-league level with a possible managerial position in his sights.
“The (induction) honor was a surprise, yet over the years, I’ve often wondered what it took to get in.”
Wonder no more. Stearns’ record finally speaks for itself.
John Stearns epitomizes what the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame is about.