Mark's brother and sister,Jerry and Millie were both excellent tennis players
who competed at the Division 1-A level, at Villanova and San Diego.
Although Mark liked Basketball,and by the tenth grade he could reverse Jam,he preffered to play baseball.
He liked the San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants,
and the Chicago Cubs.
Mark's idols were Nolan Ryan and Roger Clemens.
Mark's family was always in his corner offering support.
His grandmother Marion played catch with him.
and his older brother showed him how to throw a curveball.
His father took him to the San Diego School of Baseball when he was 12.
In Marks freshman year, he learned a changeup.
Coach Dick Serrano promoted him to the varsity the following spring.
In one of his games, he surrendered 10 runs in a third of an inning.
In the stands during that game was former major league hurler Tom House, whose son, Bryan, was opposing Mark on the hill.
He saw tremendous potential in Mark, and offered to take him under his wing.
Much of their work focused on the mental and physical preparation necessary
before taking the mound.
The only mechanical change House suggested was raising Mark's
glove to his face during his motion.
In 2001, the Twins owned the first overall pick, and the Cubs selected second.
If ever a player prayed he would not go #1, it was Mark, who could think of no better way to write the next chapter of his baseball career than to be taken by Chicago.
When Minnesota opted for Joe Mauer, there was jubilation in the Prior home.
The Cubs, who had known for months they would take Mark if the Twins didnt, were also very happy.JohnBoggs, Mark's agent, would demand a record-breaking contract.
Mark was too good for the Cubs to pass up.
As Mark's agent John Boggs and Chicago began their negotiations, Mark joined Team USA for his final summer of amateur competition. Several weeks into the schedule, he found himself in a rut.He lost two of this three starts,He asked for a three weeks off to attend his brother's wedding. By then Boggs and the Cubs had come to an agreement, settling on a five-year deal worth $10.5 million, the largest contract ever for a draftee.
Chicago wanted Mark to pitch in the Arizona Fall League, but he chose instead to work out on his own while earning credits toward his business degree. The team didn't fight him, trusting he would report to spring training in great shape. The Cubs planned to get a feel for where Mark was in the preseason, then farm him out to a level where he could start his climb to the majors.
Mark pitched well in spring training, and felt right at home in the clubhouse.
The guys were excited about their future ace.
The Cubs assigned Mark to the Class-AA West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx, and prayed they wouldn't need him in 2002. Figuring he wouldnt be around too long, the Diamond Jaxx took full advantage of Marks celebrity. The team estimated that he boosted merchandise sales by more than $15,000.
In early May the Cubs promoted Mark to Class AAA Iowa, where he continued to dominate.
Mark was called up in late May for a start at Wrigley Field against the Pittsburgh Pirates. With 49 friends and family members in the stands, he whiffed 10 in six innings to record his first big-league victory.
Mark was not a disappointment to them.
Perhaps most impressive was how he bounced back from bad outings.
At 6-5 and more than 220 pounds, Mark has the perfect build for a power pitcher.
He generates most of his strength from belowhis waist.
He is still learning to use his legs when he pitches.