Former Dawg making rumbles with Volcanoes
Baseball: Tyler Hollick plays in Northwest League all-star game
By: Bruce Campbell
| Posted: Wednesday, Aug 14, 2013 10:28 am
A former Okotoks Dawgs could have used a break from the grind of long bus trips and playing ball in small-town USA. But when a lot of players in the Northwest League were resting on Aug. 6, Tyler Hollick was playing in the league’s all-star game in Everett, Wash.
“If you have seen Bull Durham, that pretty well hits the nail on the head,” Hollick said after batting practice in Keizer, Ore. “There are long bus trips and we played 51 games in 52 days. It is a grind, but you are doing it with your teammates, this is what we signed up for.”
Hollick signed with the San Francisco Giants after being drafted by the defending World Series champion in June of 2012 in the 14th round. He was playing outfield for the Okotoks Dawgs at the time and was hitting .323. He would end his 2012 summer with the AZL Giants in the Arizona Rookie League, where he hit .301 in 32 games.
This year he toiled for the Augusta Greenjackets for 15 games in Georgia, before being shipped closer to home with the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes in Oregon.
The centre-fielder is hitting .280 with one homerun and 14 RBI with the Volcanoes. Good enough to be selected the Northwest League all-star.
“It’s voted on by the fans on league and by the managers and the front office (in the league),” Hollick said. “I had a good first half of the season… I’m honoured to be selected.”
Hollick drove in the tying run in the eighth inning with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth inning in the 8-7 victory for the South over the North in the all-star game. Of course, the ultimate goal for any professional baseball player is to don a major league uniform someday. Hollick said he isn’t worrying about that at this time. He’s got to keep grinding, riding the buses and learning the trades in the School of Hard Knocks of minor league baseball.
“The Giants are telling me to go out there and play every day,” Hollick said. “I can’t predict what is going to happen. All I can do is go out there and play hard.
“We still have some ball to play and I have a lot to work on. Hopefully, I can open some eyes and move on. I’m just happy to be here.”
The Volcanoes won the first half of the season and will start playoffs early in September.
When the series is over, he will be in Okotoks for a few weeks before headings south again to play instructional ball.
The trip to Okotoks is all part of helping an organization which has given him so much.
The 20-year-old Holy Trinity Academy grad has deep roots with the Okotoks Dawgs. He was part of the first Dawgs Academy in 2007 and played infield for the Midget Tier II provincial championship — despite being a Bantam-aged team.
“The Dawgs are the reason why I am here,” he said. “Playing in the Western Major Baseball League is a great stepping stone between college and professional ball.”
If he gets down on himself as he climbs the professional baseball ladder, he has a pretty good mentor to go to for advice — current Milwaukee Brewer closer Jim Henderson.
Henderson, a former Calgary Dawg, saw more small towns than a traveling salesman as he toiled for 10 years in the minor leagues before getting the call to the Bigs in 2012.
Henderson and Hollick help out with the Dawgs program in the offseason when their professional careers don’t interfere.
“We don’t talk too much during the season, but in the offseason, I talk to Jimmy just about every day,” Hollick said. “He tells me to play hard and remember there is always someone there to take your spot… Every minor leaguer can empathize with Jim — to have 10 years in the minor leagues and have shoulder surgery and now he is having an awesome season.
“He’s always been there for me and I couldn’t be happier for him. I just couldn’t say enough about how much he has helped me.”
He would love to have the chance to face his mentor some day.
“Could I hit him? He’s pretty nasty,” Hollick said with a laugh. “I would love to get a chance to — that would be a pretty funny story.”