Maybe it was seeing Ricky Manning tool around in a 2002 Cadillac Escalade. Maybe it was the feeling of making solid contact with a wood bat.
Freshman cornerback Matt Ware made a commitment to pursuing a dual career Tuesday, signing a five-year deal with the Seattle Mariners. Although terms will not be released until the contract is approved by the commissioner's office, it is believed his bonus will be about $200,000.
In addition, the Mariners will pay for his UCLA education--about $60,000--because he must forfeit his football scholarship per NCAA rules.
Ware, a 6-foot-3 outfielder, hasn't played baseball since his sophomore year at Loyola High, but was impressive enough in tryouts to be drafted in the 21st round in June.
"He's fast, he has arm strength, and has the fast-twitch muscles," said Frank Mattox, the Mariners' scouting director. "It's not going to come easy. But he is willing to be dedicated to us in the time we have him."
Manning, a UCLA junior who plays opposite Ware at corner, completed the third year of a five-year contract with the Minnesota Twins this summer. Manning makes $55,000 a year.
"I'm dedicated enough to work with Ricky to be ready for the summer," said Ware, who will report to the Mariners' rookie team in Peoria, Ariz., in June.
Although baseball will keep his starting cornerbacks from participating in voluntary summer workouts, UCLA Coach Bob Toledo has no problem with it. For one thing, he saves two scholarships.
"If they can make more money, more power to them," he said. "It's a great summer job."
Hitting will be the toughest challenge for Ware. However, his father, Bernard, remembers his son pounding home runs in the Culver City Babe Ruth league.
"Baseball is [Matt's] best sport and hitting is his best aspect of his best sport," he said.
Linebacker Audie Attar leveled receiver Tab Perry on Tuesday with the type of hit that draws high fives in a game.
But this was practice and all Attar got was a tongue-lashing.
"I was upset to say the least," Toledo said. "We don't hit a guy in a vulnerable position. It was a cheap shot and I told [Attar] I didn't want it to happen again."
UP NEXT FOR UCLA
When: 9:30 a.m. PDT Saturday
Where: Lawrence, Kan.
TV: Fox Sports Net
Radio: KLAC (570)