RENO, NV - Cody Decker has always had a flair for the dramatics.
As a student at Santa Monica High School, Decker could be found sprinting across campus from the baseball field to the drama theater in an effort to uphold his commitments as a star power hitter and lead in the school performance.
Following a successful high school career, both on the diamond and on the stage, he took his talents to Westwood, California and UCLA.
One of UCLA's most prolific power hitters, Decker finished his career with the Bruins ranking seventh all-time in career home runs (47). Playing from 2006 to 2009, the Santa Monica High School alum was twice named to the All-Pac-10 team and earned three Pac-10 Player of the Week awards. A career .288 hitter, Decker helped the Bruins reach the postseason in three of his four seasons in Westwood, including a super regionals appearance in 2007. Decker's best season came as a senior in 2009 when he broke out for a career-best .322 average with a Pac-10 leading 21 home runs and 53 RBI in 56 games.
Decker was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 22nd round of the 2009 Major League Baseball Draft. That summer he batted .354 and led the Arizona League (AZL) in home runs, RBIs (63-an AZL record), total bases (142-an AZL record), and slugging percentage (.717), and had the best fielding percentage for a first baseman. He was named the AZL Most Valuable Player and a Topps Post-Season All-Star.
The summer of 2009 kicked off a career that spans 11 years in the Minor Leagues. In all, Decker played for: AZL Padres, Fort Wayne TinCaps, Lake Elsinore Storm, San Antonio Missions, Tucson Padres, El Paso Chihuahuas, SAN DIEGO PADRES, Omaha Storm Chasers, Portland Sea Dogs, Albuquerque Isotopes, Binghamton Rumble Ponies, Las Vegas 51's, Jackson Generals, and the Reno Aces.
His offseasons were spent acting. Decker has earned his Screen Actors Guild card and had a cameo in the NBC espionage thriller, State of Affairs. He also produces his own short films on the side and is widely known for his pranks.
The theater kid from Santa Monica left the childhood game as the active all-time home run leader in Minor League Baseball. He hit 204 regular season homers in 1,033 MiLB games and perhaps his biggest one in his final at-bat.
Down by one run in the bottom of the ninth inning in front of a sold-out Greater Nevada Field crowd, Decker stepped to the plate with a runner on first base and one out. He connected on a Jandel Gustave fastball that sailed out of the ballpark for a walk-off home run.
With a fist pump around first base, Cody Decker circled the bases for the final time as a professional baseball player and was mobbed by his teammates at home plate. In Hollywood fashion, Cody Decker was summoned by the Reno fans with chants of his name asking for a curtain call.
We asked people around professional baseball a simple question: Who is Cody Decker? Here are their answers.
Chris Cron, Reno Aces Manager - "PRO"
Dennis Lin, San Diego Union-Tribune - "One of the most colorful characters in professional baseball."
Pat Murphy, Former Manager - "Modern Day Crash Davis. Loves the game but loves embracing the grind of the Minor Leauges with joy and humor. His next career will be bigger and better."
Ryan Radtke, Voice of the Reno Aces - "Cody Decker is one of the most creative and innovative people I've ever been around in baseball. He was a very good player who blended the game and entertainment brilliantly."
Jeff Francoeur, Former Teammate - "Cody Decker is one of the true characters of the game. Even though he pulled one of the best pranks ever on me, I still love him."
Jimmie Sherfy, Aces teammate - "Great dude."
Eric Edelstein, President of the Reno Aces - "He's a champion from all that is Minor League Baseball; players, fans, front offices, media and everyone who surrounds the game. He's someone who does whatever is needed to help his team succeed and that will carry well beyond sports into his future.
Tim Hagerty, Voice of the El Paso Chihuahuas - "Cody Decker is loved in El Paso and the feeling is mutual. I remember leaving the ballpark multiple times an hour after a game and Cody was on the sidewalk, holding court with fans. The most personal player/fan relationship I've ever seen in Minor League Baseball."
Johnny Doskow, Sacramento River Cats Broadcaster - "He's a guy with a ton of charisma. He has a huge passion for the game and he's going to leave his own imprint on it."
James Jensen, Director of Sponsorship - Tucson Padres - "I would describe Cody as a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside of a ballplayer."
Travis Snider, Aces Teammate - "Cody Decker is one of one."
Damon Minor, Hitting Coach - Sacramento River Cats - "As a hitting guy, he's an absolute gamer."
Josh Kelman, Fox Sports Arizona - "I've known Cody since his UCLA days - I was on the field with him when he made his MLB debut in Phoenix and it's hard to imagine a more excited human being. 'How cool is this? Look at this! How cool is this?' No false modesty, no agenda except to crush the baseball, have fun and give a great sound bite - and not always in that order."
Caleb Joseph, Aces Teammate - "Cody is a true professional. Hands down a top-five teammate I've ever had."