Mater Dei’s Michael Peabody is his father’s son, but charting his own course

By Dan Arritt     6/15/2017

When your father earned the nickname ‘The Human Bruise,’ following in his footsteps can be a daunting adventure.

Michael Peabody hasn’t gone to the extremes Tom Peabody did as a member of one of the most well known college basketball teams in recent decades, but he surely inherited the hard-nosed attitude that carried his father from Mater Dei to the college level.

The younger Peabody is a skilled baseball player who led the Monarchs to the CIF-SS Division 1 semifinals this spring. He’s headed to UC Irvine on scholarship later this summer.

Tom Peabody was a tenacious point guard for the Mater Dei basketball team in the mid-1980s, then went on to play for Loyola Marymount, where he occupied a key role as a reserve on the 1989-90 team that miraculously advanced to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight following the on-court death of star player Hank Gathers.

The elder Peabody was known for relentlessly diving for loose balls and long rebounds, even if it meant colliding with players on the bench or tumbling into the stands.

Michael performs many of the same aerial maneuvers, though he’s usually diving for a fly ball in the outfield gap or skidding headfirst across home plate.

“He’s a gamer,” Jonathan Schiffer said of his teammate at Mater Dei the past two years. “Every game you know what you’re going to get. You’re going to get a guy that plays hard, has a lot of energy—sometimes gets too much energy, which can get himself into trouble—but that’s what we love about him. We’d rather have him be over the top, than not.”

Peabody did a lot more than just bring energy to the Monarchs. He batted .361 his senior year, leading the team in runs scored (31), stolen bases (12) and tying for the team lead with 39 hits in 33 games.

He was 7-for-12 with four runs scored in four playoff games, and capped his high school career by earning most valuable player honors at the Orange County All Star game on June 6.

“Couldn’t have asked for anything more,” Peabody said of his senior year.

Now it’s on to the college level.

The Peabody family has deep roots at Loyola Marymount. Not only did Tom star for the Lions, but Michael’s cousin, Tim Peabody, a 2013 graduate of Mater Dei, recently completed his senior season for the Loyola Marymount baseball team, and Tim’s mother, Nadine, played softball for the Lions.

Michael Peabody decided to head in a different direction and signed with UCI in November. The Big West Conference is one of the toughest in the nation—Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State each advanced to the NCAA Tournament Super Regionals earlier this month—and Peabody wanted that experience.

“My dad wanted me to do my own thing,” Peabody said. “He didn’t want me to live in his shadow at LMU.”

Michael Peabody had heard stories of Loyola Marymount’s stunning postseason run in March of 1990, but the best insight he received was when ESPN televised a 30 for 30 documentary on the team’s surprising success in April of 2010.

Like his grandfather did for his father, Tom Peabody gave Michael plenty of room to blossom into his own.

“He tried to stay out of it most of the time, but if he knows something is bothering me, he tells me to go out there and just be myself, not to over-think or anything, not get too over-hyped, just go out there,” Peabody said.

And don’t be afraid to get a bruise or two.