Boyle 8th-grader earns trip to Puerto Rico to play baseball

August 13, 2004|MIKE MARSEE

Garrick Whittle had a good time playing with his local all-star baseball team this summer, but he's already looking forward to a longer road trip next summer.

The Boyle County Middle School eighth-grader will spend a week in Puerto Rico with a touring team that is part of a national youth baseball development program.

Whittle, 12, learned that he made the cut at a tryout held by Coast to Coast Baseball, which takes teams each year on trips to Puerto Rico, Australia and the Netherlands.

He tried out last month in Georgetown, but he only recently learned he had been chosen.

"I was speechless," he said. "I couldn't say anything."

Whittle's father, Gary, said the family doesn't know what prompted Coast to Coast to send his son an invitation to the tryout.


The organization's Web site says most of the players it selects are those who dream of playing beyond the high school level and most are recommended by coaches who have seen them play.

Coast to Coast, based in Marietta, Ohio, evaluates more than 3,000 players at a number of tryouts across the country and selects about 300 for 20 to 25 teams in three age groups. Whittle, who will be 13 next month, will play on a team of 13- to 15-year-olds.

"I think it will be a great experience," Gary Whittle said. "He's pretty pumped about it, too."

Garrick Whittle's trip to Puerto Rico will be July 7-13. The schedule will feature about five games against local teams, plus a number of practices and seminars.

That includes a workout at Hiram Bithorn Stadium, where the Montreal Expos have played some of their home games in recent seasons.

"I'm looking forward to meeting all the new people, the kids on the team, and to just playing baseball and getting better," Whittle said. "I just know it's going to be pretty exciting."

Whittle is a left-handed pitcher and first-baseman who played both positions for Boyle's middle school team this spring.

He also played for the Danville-Boyle County 12-year-old Little League all-star team that finished second in its district tournament last month.

His home run in the ninth inning against Anderson County put the team into the championship game.

Whittle said he has played baseball since age 5, and he said his favorite major league player is Arizona pitcher Randy Johnson.

And while he also plays middle school basketball and a little bit of golf, his father said he works on his baseball skills all year long.

"He does something or tries to about every day," Gary Whittle said. "Baseball is his passion."

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