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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Valley Voice 10 Years Future In The Big Leagues Faded For Valley Star, With Few Regrets

As athletes, Mark Arland and Kevin Stocker will forever be linked to the Central Valley High School class of 1988.

Ten years ago, the pair helped the Bears place fourth in the State AAA basketball tournament, CV’s highest boys finish in two decades.

Arland and Stocker grew up in the Valley, playing baseball and basketball against and with each other.

Arland was a three-year starter in both sports at CV. Stocker would follow him to the varsity as a junior.

Arland led the basketball team in scoring with a 15.4 average. Stocker was right behind at 13.1.

Both were offered baseball scholarships to play at the University of Washington.

While Stocker accepted, Arland, who was also drafted by the Cincinnati Reds, signed a professional contract.

“One reason I skipped the UW was so I could beat him to the Major Leagues,” says Arland with a laugh. “I figured he was going to make it and thought, ‘If I’m going to, I’ll get there first.”’

Injuries curtailed Arland’s pro baseball career after four years. Today Stocker is the starting shortstop for the expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays and recipient of a multi-million dollar contract.

Arland, 28, has abandoned his local three-year-old sprinkler installation business and is pondering his next career move.

He is a hunter, fisherman, snowmobiler, golfer, recreational basketball and softball player.

His love of the outdoors has rooted him firmly in the Spokane Valley with few regrets.

“If I would have played pro baseball,” he said, “I wouldn’t have met my wife, Kuray. That’s one of the positives in my life.”

Today his stardom is assigned to modified softball.

“You don’t get a paycheck, but it’s competition,” said Arland. “Maybe not at the levels of the pros, but it’s still there.”

In September of 1995, nine months after he and his wife married, Arland’s team, Brymile, went 42-0 and won the ASA Men’s Major Modified Pitch national tournament. He led the team in home runs and was named tournament MVP, but just second-team All-American.

“No one else will accomplish that feat,” he said.

Arland said that growing up he always had a ball in his hand and was doing some activity, rain or shine. He was best at football. Basketball was his favorite and baseball his future.

A decade ago, CV overcame a third-place league finish to win district and the first eastern regional under its present format to qualify for state.

“We had a tough time beating Ferris until our senior year when we beat them three out of four times. And Ferris ended up second in state,” said Arland. “Seattle was a blast just being part of it, but it would have been nice to go farther.”

Drafted in the 11th round by Cincinnati, Arland played Class A ball in Kissimee, Fla., Greensboro, N.C., Charleston, W.V. and Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

His season in Charleston ended in May when he tore up his left shoulder while diving for a baseball.

Arland also underwent minor surgery on his right shoulder the next year and was released.

“I think my left shoulder pretty much ended that,” said Arland of his career.

Looking back he wonders what would have happened had he instead played in college. He may never have had a professional shot. He may have developed and been playing today alongside or against Stocker or such ex-minor league teammates as Dan Wilson and Bobby Ayala of the Seattle Mariners.

But Arland remains philosophical.

“There’s a tradeoff,” he says. “I have to think of the living I could have made, but probably got as far as I could get.”

Spokane is his home. He lived in the same house with his parents his entire life until his marriage. And the recreational sporting opportunities are plentiful.

“I like this area,” said Arland. “I like living here.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo