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Versatility Sets Sofro Apart : Glendale Senior's Dual-Sport Career Unveils Work Ethic

June 16, 1988|SAM FARMER | Times Staff Writer

Jeff Sofro can understand how Bo Jackson feels.

The Times' Glendale-area player of the year sympathizes with the Raider tailback/Royals left fielder because he, too, splits his allegiance between two sports: baseball and basketball. But he admits he would never deem either sport a "hobby."

"Bo can call football a hobby because he can back it up with what he does on the field," said Sofro, 17, who averaged 21.7 points per game as the starting point guard for Glendale High. "I have to work too hard at both sports."

Even though he was an All-Southern Section 5-A Division first-team selection in basketball, Sofro says he has an easier time between the chalk lines.

"I like whatever sport I'm playing at the time best," he said, "but baseball has always come more naturally to me."

Sofro plans to stay true to his athletic work ethic by continuing to play both sports for whichever college he chooses. He is being courted by representatives from Pepperdine, Redlands, Pomona-Pitzer and the UC Davis.

Barney Sofro, Jeff's father, blazed the basketball-baseball trail for his son when he played both sports at crosstown-rival Hoover. And Jeff's younger brother David, 13, continues the tradition as a seventh grader at Wilson Junior High.

Sofro isn't often content with simply playing sports, however--he prefers to dominate them. Even if it means flexing the rules a bit, like when he lowers the basketball rim at his friend's house to 8 feet--2 feet lower than the regulation height.

"It's great," he says of the so-called dunk-ball games. "You feel like a 7-footer on 10-foot baskets."

But even without an unfair advantage, Sofro can control a game. He batted .397 in Pacific League play and had a Ruthian .620 on-base percentage. But don't think Sofro is interested only in his own success on the diamond: he switched from shortstop to third base this season to help the team.

Making the transition has been fairly easy for Sofro because he remains to the right of the pitcher.

"Third is a reaction spot--you either get a nubber or a shot right at you," he said. "I'm not fast but I'm quick and that helps me."

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