Story by Steve McCarthy
June 25, 2009
Greg Vaughn received a boisterous ovation in his return to Cotuit’s Lowell Park Thursday, this time in the bleachers, while his son Cory is looking to continue the successful history of the Vaughn name on the Cape, which includes the elder Vaughn’s cousin Mo Vaughn, a former Boston Red Sox first baseman who played for the Wareham Gatemen (1987-1988).
The elder Vaughn called Cotuit home for two summers (1984-1985), and was the league’s MVP in his second season with the team. He recorded double digit steals in both seasons, and hit 10 home runs to go with a .343 batting average in 1985 to build a resume worthy of induction into the Cape League Hall of Fame, by which he was honored prior to the 2009 season.
“This is where it all started for me,” Vaughn said. “I was fortunate enough to play on some pretty good teams, and have some pretty good seasons here, so without a doubt it brings back fond memories.”
Vaughn enjoyed a 15 year MLB career (1989-2003), which included four All-Star Game appearances. He hit a career high 50 home runs in 1998 as a member of the San Diego Padres.
Though the comparison between father and son is to be expected, the younger Vaughn does not dwell on becoming the same player his father was.
“I feel like I’m my own player,” Vaughn said. “My dad’s completely different, and I just play how Cory Vaughn knows how to play.”
Due to three consecutive rainouts during Greg’s first visit to Cape Cod in 25 years, the family had to travel to Falmouth Wednesday to finally catch a game. Cory struck out in all four plate appearances and currently carries a .156 batting average, but a grand slam early in the season against Harwich gave fans a taste of the power swing that earned Vaughn the rating of top prospect in the Northwoods League last summer by Baseball America.
“When he struggles, I struggle,” the elder Vaughn said. “What I’m trying to instill in Cory is that everybody struggles. Everyone that plays this game goes through ups and downs, but mentally you have to be tough enough to endure that, and to battle through that on a daily basis.”
Cory was drafted in the 43rd round of the 2007 MLB draft by the Philadelphia Phillies, but declined to sign a contract, instead enrolling at San Diego State University, where he is a rising junior and two year-starter in right field and at designated hitter. Vaughn was overshadowed during his sophomore season by the first overall pick in the 2009 draft, pitcher Stephen Strasburg, but batted .328 with 10 home runs and led the team with 15 stolen bases.
Vaughn was a three sport star at Jesuit H.S. in Carmichael, CA, also playing football and basketball. He considered playing football in college for the Aztecs as well as baseball, but decided the training regimen of two sports along with academics would be too great of a demand.
The elder Vaughn retired from professional baseball when Cory was a freshman in high school, but even while constantly on the road, Cory said his father took time to deliver encouragement and advice over the phone.
“He’s just always giving me quick tips and hints on what to do, and how to be successful,” Vaughn said.
Greg said he has been approached with numerous coaching opportunities in professional baseball, but watching the game in Falmouth from behind the backstop said he “Wouldn’t give this up for anything in the world.”
Cory is not the only younger Vaughn with athletic aspirations to follow. According to Greg, the daughter of he and his wife Michele recently competed in the National Equestrian Games in Kentucky.
Greg Vaughn will be officially inducted into the Cape League Hall of Fame during the annual Hall of Fame Weekend in November.
“Any time your peers feel that you’re worthy of that type of accolade, it’s special,” Vaughn said. “If you think about the history of this league, all the players that have come through here, to be able to be chosen for that Hall of Fame is pretty good.”