Andy Lack is all smiles as he hold his MVP and championship trophies
Andy Lack can't remember a summer that he hasn't played baseball. He did it in little league, he did it through high school and now he is doing it during his college playing days as well.
"I haven't had much time off, that's for sure," laughed Lack as I spoke to him via cell phone a day after winning the Futures League Championship for the Worcester Bravehearts. "It was a heck of an ending to a great summer!!"
Every young kid who plays baseball dreams about games like this: Bottom of the 10th, score tied, runner on 3rd with 2 outs. On the line is a chance to advance in your league championship and you are at the plate. You are playing in front of your home crowd and the place is going crazy in anticipation of what might happen. On the mound, the opponent's closer is hitting above 90 on the radar gun. That's was the scene 2 weeks ago for Andy Lack.
Andy Lack was the star of that game for the Worcester Bravehearts. He came through with the 2 out game-winning hit that sent the Bravehearts to Martha's Vineyard for the championship series.
His fairytale didn't end there, in the first game of the double elimination championship, Lack worked his first at bat to a full count before slamming a 3 run homer that gave the Bravehearts a 5-0 lead. They ended up winning that game 5-2, one game away from the championship.
Before the championship game, Lack was awarded Defensive Player of the Year by the league's commissioner. "My batting average didn't end up where I wanted it to for the summer," Lack said. "I hit balls hard all summer but right at people, that's baseball. I have always prided myself on my defense no matter how good or bad my offense is going. It meant a lot for me to be honored as the Defensive Player of the Year for the entire league."
As for the championship game, he left his mark on that one too. The game was scoreless until Andy got a two out hit in the 6th. He stole second base on the first pitch. On the next pitch he anticipated a breaking ball and swiped 3rd. The very next pitch was slapped towards second base, Lack scored as the 2nd baseman couldn't make the play. That ended up being the only offense of the night and the Bravehearts would end up winning the game 1-0 and the Championship.
After the game, Lack was awarded 2 more trophies. One being his team's championship trophy, the other for being the playoff's MVP.
Lack doesn't take anything for granted and even though he knows he may have been in the right place at the right time, he also knows he's worked his butt off to get to where he is today.
Lack played high school baseball for the Kennett Indians in his hometown. He played 3 years during his high school summers with the Lids Missouri Bulls amateur baseball team and now spends his summers in places thousands of miles from home.
For the past three summers, Lack has traveled the country living out of a suitcase and staying with host families. First, he played in Ohio and surrounding states in the Great Lakes League in 2012. Last year, he was in Seattle in the West Coast League. This year, he traveled the East Coast with the Bravehearts.
Playing in those summer leagues, he said, is different than anything he's ever experienced.
"It's definitely different than the Bulls," laughed Lack. "I've always loved summer baseball and the travel part of it but the last three summers have been amazing. Meeting new people, making new friends, I wouldn't trade it for anything."
In talking with Lack, it's hard not to get a sense of humility as he lives out his dream of playing baseball across America but he does miss home and his parents, family and friends.
"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't ready to get back to Missouri and see family and friends", said Lack. "As much as I love playing baseball it does get lonely sometimes. I know I'm blessed to be able play baseball at this level and I also know nothing lasts forever. So, I try to enjoy each and every game. I try to play the game as hard as I can and respect the game, but it can defintely be hard playing 100 plus games a year."
Such humility helps Andy look forward to a future potentially without baseball. While many players get lost when their careers are over, Lack is a realist. When I asked where he see's himself after college he says.
"I'm going to worry about my junior year at Southeast Missouri State. We have a conference title to defend and I don't want to get too far ahead of myself. But, if I am lucky enough to get drafted then I'll do everything I can at the next level to be the best. Regardless I will have my degree and the many firendships and relationships I've built along the way. That's something that can never be taken away." said Lack.
For now, Lack is back with his teammates in Cape Girardeau, starting classes and getting back in his regular routine. It won't be long before that routine will include a glove, bat and a ball but hasn't it always?!