Stadium to Studio: An Inside Look at the Transformation of Mike Stud’s Career

They say that all rock stars want to be athletes and all athletes want to be rock stars. Some excel at being the former; others, the latter. A product of Cranston, Rhode Island, Mike Seander — better known by his stage name, “Mike Stud” — has been both. At 27 years old, Seander has made it big both on and off the baseball diamond.

But don’t get it twisted. He never imagined having the rap career he has now. Following his high-school career — a career in which he posted a 2.45 ERA as a sophomore and then watched that metric shrink to 0.72 and 0.91 his junior and senior seasons — Seander became one of the top recruits at Duke University. He received a full scholarship for athletics as well as academics and chose to attend.

There, in 2007 as a true freshman, Seander became the team’s closer, leading the Blue Devils with 28 appearances, nine saves, and a 1.61 ERA. His sophomore season, he saw his ERA balloon to 4.05. And then Seander was hit with the worst news of his life.

He was told he would need Tommy John surgery, and for a pitcher of his caliber, one can only imagine what that news would be like. Seander elected to undergo the procedure and missed the 2009 season. When he returned to the mound in 2010, he just wasn’t the dominant pitcher he once was, pitching in nine games to the tune of an 11.42 ERA.

Since he missed the 2009 season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, he had another year of eligibility left. He elected to go to Georgetown for his final year, where he still couldn’t seem regain the form that made him such a valuable asset his freshman year.

While he was rehabbing his shoulder, Seander recorded a song mainly as a joke called “College Humor.” His teammates soon began to play it in the clubhouse and at parties throughout campus. Soon, the song had over a million hits on YouTube, and it seamed as though Seander had found his true calling.

With as much success as Seander has had, people often think he comes from a rich background. This is a false sentiment, as Mike grew up in a small, three-bedroom house in a small town in Rhode Island. But Seander holds no grudge.

“I don’t necessarily blame anyone for assuming anything,” Seander said. “You just kind of assume and make judgments based off what you know. On paper, I’m not the most likable guy. It’s something where, if you take a quick look at it, it could be easy to judge.”

Seander said that he and his crew know what they are and what they aren’t. He doesn’t think it’s necessary to waste time explaining it to the people who don’t believe in him. His show on the Esquire Network, “This Is Mike Stud” (which airs on Wednesdays at 11:00 p.m. ET), portrays his life on the road and has a recurring theme of showing the viewers that he and his crew are not the stereotypical rap group you might think of at first glance.

Seander can write a song about any topic that comes to mind, but he prefers to write about what he knows. And that’s baseball and all of the personal experiences he has had along his journey. He believes that’s why he and his music can relate to so many people.

He believes that he is a regular guy who has regular problems just as we all do everyday. Seander took a chance with his music, and that chance gave him a whole new life. Failure wasn’t really an option for him. He acknowledges that many people have dreams as big as he did but are afraid of failure, and for that he has a bit of advice.

“If you have goals or a vision for something, and you don’t ever execute it, or you don’t ever go for it because you’re scared or you think maybe people will give you crap for it, you’re going to regret it. I know for a fact you’re going to regret it.”

Mike acknowledged that he himself was laughed at. He knew that his dream was far-fetched, but he was determined to fulfill his dream.

“I’d get upset when people would say stuff and no one really got the vision or people would tell me there was no way I was going to make it,” he said.

And look where that landed him. Seander described having the ability to impact someone’s life as “one of the coolest parts” of his new career.

“Everyone has their dreams and aspirations,” he said, “and the safe route isn’t going to lead to any of those. You have to take risks and take a path that hasn’t been taken. There will be a lot of hard times that come with it, but the bigger reward is down those paths, too, so you just have to go after it.”

Seander has deep ties to the MLB community. Most don’t know that he was teammates with Toronto Blue Jays ace Marcus Stroman while attending Duke. They became extremely close and talk almost on a daily basis. Stroman appears in the music video for “These Days,” a video Seander described as he and his former teammate living vicariously through each other. The video (see below; if you’re watching at work, be sure to throw some headphones on) features Stroman rapping while Seander is on the field. The album is available on iTunes and Spotify.

“I think a lot of people are interested in how Marcus Stroman thinks,” said Seander in explaining how Stroman has helped his career. “He’s always had an imprint on my career and he was one of the first guys that really saw the vision like I did and thought we could make it, so I constantly draw from his successes and his failures.”

While Seander is on a tour bus for two months, he still keeps up with MLB. Growing up a Red Sox fan — he recently made an appearance at pitcher Clay Buchholz‘s annual “Buchholz Bowl” — Seander feels no shame in keeping tabs on the Blue Jays while they’re in a race for the A.L. East crown. “Yeah, man. I’m always checking up on Marcus and those guys for sure.”

When asked what player he would want to be for a day, Seander said he didn’t want to choose a pitcher because “being a hitter is way cooler.” (Seander hit .354 his senior year in high school.) As I’m sure most of us would, Seander would trade places with Mike Trout. “I’d probably say my boy Trout. I love the way he plays the game. He’s always in the middle of the action, middle of the lineup, just does everything. It’d be awesome to play with his skillset for a day.”

Seander also has another strong tie to MLB. His girlfriend, Josie Canseco, is the daughter of former bash brother Jose Canseco. “He’s awesome,” said Seander. “I’ve been pleasantly surprised by him. Meeting your girlfriend’s dad is never exciting, but for me it was. He’s actually a guy you can really learn a lot from. He’s been humbled the past five years; he’s living with decisions he’s made and is pretty much an open book about it.”

Seander hinted that in the last episode of “This Is Mike Stud,” he and Canseco compete in a home run derby.

Seander has obviously had a ton of drive behind his endeavors, and that has led to his success. In a song of his called “Ueno,” he says, “If Tommy never happened, I’d have made more than this on my signing day.” It’s hard to imagine what could have been for Seander given the curveball he was thrown. It’s an amazing story with a lot of bumps in the road, but he wouldn’t change a thing. Whether it’s in the ballpark or on a stage, Seander seemed destined for greatness.

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