Rooting for Shank will be easy
This past weekend, I started reading a new book – George Vecsey’s national best-seller, "Stan Musial: An American Life."
In it, as Vecsey is talking about his interactions with Stan the Man, he authored a couple of lines which kinda stood out to me. Vecsey’s words were, "Sportswriters are easy. We like superstars that talk to us."
It was probably just coincidence that I broke open the book during the same week that the 2013 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft was being held. And of course, every baseball fan in Lititz knows by now that 2009 Warwick grad Zach Shank was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the 28th round last Saturday. Somewhere, our friend and former Record Express editor Rick Reitz – a Mariners’ fan since the days before Ken Griffey Jr. arrived – is smiling.
So why did Vecsey’s words stand out to me?
Because Zach fits that mold. He’s one of those players who is easy to root for. He’s one of the good guys. And … oh yeah, he talks to us sportswriters.
OK, so maybe he doesn’t have 3,630 major league hits, three MVP awards and seven batting crowns. But when you consider that Zach is the first Warwick player to be selected in the MLB draft – in a long history of some good ball players to come through the school – that makes him pretty special in my book.
Time will tell where his journey takes him once he reports to the Pulaski (Va.) Mariners Rookie League team this Sunday. But here’s hoping he has a long, successful career.
The Marist Red Foxes are no doubt thankful that he spent his collegiate career playing ball in Poughkeepsie. I’m certainly thankful that I was able to take advantage of a weekend in May to watch Marist play Rider in their final series of the regular season.
Since last summer, I’ve been fortunate to form a friendship with Jack Deering, director of baseball operations for the Danbury (Conn.) Westerners’ summer team that Zach played for in 2012, mostly through phone calls and emails. We finally shook hands that weekend and I hung out with Zach’s parents, John and Cindy, and just had an enjoyable visit. With Zach, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. His parents are a class act, as well.
After the game, Zach emerged from the athletic facility wearing an old-school Chicago White Sox hat, hugged both of his parents, and we were all off to an Italian restaurant, courtesy of Jack’s generosity.
Since the first day that I talked to Jack, a bird dog for the San Francisco Giants for 20 years, he was excited for this year’s MLB Draft and – as we learned – for good reason.
To the Shanks credit, they seemed to have things in perspective leading up to the MLB Draft. Last Saturday, their wait finally ended. They had an exciting day that Zach, along with his family and friends, will surely remember forever.
This is just the start of a new chapter. But if respect, attitude and hard work count for anything, then Zach should be perfectly fine.
Obviously, he has a lot of the tools – strong arm, good approach at the plate, hustles. But you can also learn a lot by talking to people who have been around him day in and day out. His coaches at Warwick – Mike Brown and Bob Locker, among them – couldn’t say enough about him. Ditto for Jack Deering.
It should be a fun ride. A lot of sportswriters are going to like talking to him.
More ZACH, page B-8