July 12, 2011
LIMA — Shawnee grad Garrett Black went to the baseball showcases.
He and his dad sent out tons of letters and baseball resumes.
But, coming out of high school, Black wasn’t getting any nibbles. No one was offering him anything to play baseball or soccer.
Black realized he could play Division III, non-scholarship ball or walk on at a D-I or D-II school.
“I could have went to Ohio Northern for soccer. It basically came down to what school I liked the best,” the sophomore-to-be Black said. “Once I went to Athens, I knew the feeling I had. If baseball came, that would be a plus.”
Once the engineering major settled in at Ohio U. he began to explore baseball.
“They don’t have soccer at Athens, they only have a club,” Black said. “I wasn’t sold on the club. I decided to walk on for baseball.”
So Black, who was only recruited by Defiance College, contacted Ohio U. coach Joe Carbone about a tryout.
Black beat some long odds this year, going from a walk-on to a freshman starter at shortstop for Ohio University. This summer he’s starting at shortstop and second base for the Lima Locos. He can also play third or even outfield.
“Garrett is solid,” Locos coach Gene Stechschulte said. “Lately, he gets two or three hits every game. And it’s tough when you’re playing at home. There’s a lot more pressure on you.
“I’m going to keep running him out there because he’s doing a great job, especially from a hitting standpoint.”
Black is hitting .320 with 13 RBIs for the first-place Locos (17-10). He also has a team-high 15 walks, three stolen bases and one triple. Black was one of seven Locos named to the Great Lakes Collegiate League All-Star game, which is set for 6 p.m. today at the Great American Ball Park.
“I personally never expected to play at all this year and I never expected to be playing for the Locos,” Black said. “I never thought it ever would happen.”
Along the way, Black kept his high-energy work ethic churning. A few weeks into the Ohio U. season, Carbone made a move.
“At the time we weren’t doing very well and our shortstop was having a rough time,” Black said. “He put me in in the ninth inning and I got a hit my first time up. He started me the next game.”
Black became the Bobcats’ starter from that day forward. He ended up hitting .307 with four doubles and one triple. He also had one home run, 15 RBI and four stolen bases. His on-base percentage was .400 in starting 35 games.
“I knew I took a senior’s spot and I didn’t want the same thing to happen to me,” Black said. “I knew I had to perform and do the best I could or else I was going to be taken out.”
Once his Bobcats’ season was over, he headed to the Lima Locos, a team he watched growing up.
“I didn’t get out to watch them as much as I wanted because I was always playing, but if I ever had a day off I’d always try to come and watch the Locos,” Black said. “That was always a dream and it was the next step (to play for the Locos).”
Black has been one of the Locos’ top hitters and top run producers all season. He’s been alternating at shortstop and second with fellow middle infielder Matt Morse from Alabama-Birmingham.
Over the past year, Black has received plenty of e-mails and encouragement from his dad, Chuck, who played baseball at Bowling Green State and went on to play minor league baseball.
“My dad has taught me almost everything I’ve ever known about baseball,” Black said. “He definitely helped me through the year.”
And with the Locos atop the north division, his baseball year thus far couldn’t have gone much better.
“I never gave up,” Black said. “I never let the fact that no one told me I could play for them or play at a D-I school set me back.”