Buckeyes baseball a labor of love
"This is only place I've ever played baseball," said Gravelle, Brunswick's shortstop and No. 3 hitter. "I didn't make my high school team. I got cut. I always come here every summer and pick up right where I left off."
"I've been playing catcher my whole life," said Johnson. "In my opinion, it's one of the best positions you can have. At Hudson Valley, I know what the catcher is thinking and they know what I'm thinking. We communicate really well off the field, too. It's really easy to understand how they're thinking."
Keegan's father, Mike Keegan, is the team's head coach and he has seen most of this group together since their Little League days. He drags the infield before the games, chalks the batter's box and foul lines and more or less sacrifices his summer to work with a bunch of teenagers on diamonds across the Capital Region.
Players pony up $225 to get a 22-game schedule - more are possible depending on how many tournaments the Buckeyes qualify for - but that's a tax they're willing to pay to get a chance to play the game they love.
"Aside from Brunswick, I’ve had this group since Little League," Mike Keegan said. "We’ve all been together and there’s not a one I wouldn’t go to war for. We were always taught up here that it goes: kids, family, baseball. That’s kind of like the policy up here. The parents I have, I wouldn’t trade them for the world. They’re fantastic."
"They’re a tight, tight group," Mike Keegan said. "When they’re in the dugout, it’s just baseball. There is nothing else on these kid’s minds."
The team is hoping to finally get one of those elusive bids to a World Series in some far-off locale. In the meantime, they're taking it one game at a time, enjoying the game and celebrating the team chemistry that has taken years to develop.
"Pretty much just keep playing," Johnson said. "If you're playing summer ball, obviously, you want to play. So we just want to keep playing and go as far as we can. At the same time, we just have to have fun and not be too uptight or anything."
For the full story, check out Tuesday's edition of The Record. For more on the Buckeyes, check out their web site at http://leaguelineup.com/welcome.asp?url=brunswick
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