Red Wings reap the benefits of Heyman’s decision
GENEVA, N.Y. — It hasn’t taken long for Grant Heyman to get comfortable making his way around the base paths of the New York Collegiate Baseball League. Not that he needed any directions. Getting four bags at a time looks familiar to him.
Heyman connected for his latest home run on Sunday as the Geneva Red Wings defeated the Adirondack Trail Blazers 6-5 to sweep the NYCBL Eastern Division semi-final. The blast might make its way into McDonough Park lore. A solo shot in the fifth which caromed off the “Big Mac” scoreboard 350 feet from home plate.
Caromed is the best word to describe the way the ball bounded off the weather-beaten flight obstruction. It didn’t glance off the board. Nor did it touch the wall on a its way down. Heyman’s bomb was on a line when it fittingly struck the scoreboard between the ball and strike indicator 15-18 feet from the ground.
Where the ball would have landed is anyone’s guess. Maybe a physicist could calculate the distance. Let’s see. The ball hit an obstruction 15-18 feet from the ground 350 feet from its point of contact at a speed of…? There’s the mystery. Let’s just say it was moving. Is it possible to assign an MPH value to moving?
It was the teenager’s eighth round-tripper in just 61 at bats for the summer. A mathematician isn’t required to figure out that Heyman needs just a tad under eight at bats for every home run. Putting that in perspective, the MLB single-season record is 6.52 at bats per HR. Yes, that was against Major League pitching, but Heyman is just a month removed from receiving his high school diploma.
The Toronto Blue Jays chose Heyman out of high school in the 11th round with 355th overall pick of the 2012 MLB draft. The Pittsford, New York resident opted to attend college in the fall. Heyman will play for the University of Miami Hurricanes of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“It was a really tough decision choosing to go to college instead of pro,” Heyman said. “But I think it’s the best decision for myself. I want to progress my game down there. The coaches are really good, and I’ve had a good chance to get better playing with the Red Wings.”
A recent change in the NYCBL eligibility rules allowed Heyman to play right away. Prior to last season only current NCAA student-athletes with one year of experience playing in college and at least one year of eligibility remaining could participate in the NYCBL and other NACSB-sanctioned leagues.
“My high school coach (Jim Capellupo) played for the Red Wings. I had connections there. I knew coach (Dave) Herbst, and he told me it’s great group of guys with a lot of games to play, so I was excited when I got the chance to play for them.”
Heyman arrived just in time. After starting the season winning three in a row and four of five, the Red Wings hit a wall. The team was beset by injuries. Jon Leroux, a New York Met draft pick, chose to make the move to professional baseball. They lost six straight in July and fell into last place.
“We were on a pretty horrible losing streak,” Heyman explained. “Just to win with all these guys is pretty fun. Just to play baseball everyday is a great experience.”
He has multiple hits in eight of 21 games. Sunday was his third straight game with a home run.
When asked if he expected Heyman to make such an immediate impact, Herbst smiled and chuckled.
“I wish I could say I did. I expected a solid effort from him this summer. I expected him to gain some really valuable experience. He is doing that. He’s got a quick bat. There’s no denying that. He’s feeling pretty good right now.”
Heyman can do more than just contribute from the plate. He also received the Rawlings High School Gold Glove Award from the American Baseball Coaches Association.
Still, his work with the bat generates the most conversation. After Sunday’s blast Geneva public address announcer Bill McIntyre, a lifelong New York Yankee fan mused: “The next time he hits one, I’m going to announce that’s a Hey-Bomb from Heyman!”
Maybe it’s best to leave the physicists out of this one. Heyman’s home run deserves to be a myth. Like the fish stories near the shores of Seneca Lake, the stories of Heyman’s can grow with each reciting.
The Red Wings host the Syracuse Jr. Chiefs for game two of the NYCBL Eastern Division Finals. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m. at McDonough Park.