By Gabriella Sacidor
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Every young baseball player dreams about playing in the Major Leagues, but only a handful will be able to turn those dreams into a reality. A Philadelphia native is the latest to take his turn at bat.
The Far Northeast’s very own Brian O’Grady was selected in the eighth round of this year’s Major League Baseball’s (MLB) Annual Draft by the Cincinnati Reds.
It’s been quite a journey for the 22-year-old, who grew up in the city’s Parkwood neighborhood and attended St. Martha’s Catholic Grade School on Academy Road.
When O’Grady was in fifth grade, his family moved to Warminster, Pa. He went on to be a standout in both baseball and basketball at Archbishop Wood High School, and later continued his baseball career at Rutgers University.
“When I arrived at college I learned more about what went into hitting and the philosophy behind it. After freshman year I continued to play ball in the summer where I learned what I had to do. From there on everything kept progressing,” he said.
And progress it did! Brian batted .328 with 30 RBI, 40 runs scored and 22 extra-base hits. He led Rutgers in home runs (5), triples (5), total bases (104) and slugging percentage (.510) in 54 games this season.
O’Grady was named Third-Team All-American Athletic Conference at First Base and Third-Team All-Big East as an Outfielder in 2012. He finished his college career with 771 at-bats, the third-most in Rutgers history, and 227 hits, the sixth-most in the school’s record book.
During his senior year, O’Grady was converted from the Outfield to First Base. “By moving to First Base, it showed Major League teams that I was versatile,” O’Grady said. “When the Reds drafted me they told me to bring all of my gloves.”
Speaking over the telephone from Billings, Montana, home of the Reds’ Pioneer League Advanced Rookie affiliate, the Mustangs, the Philly native spoke of his selection. “It’s unbelievable. You quickly realize that you better love baseball because it’s now going to be your full time job and your focus all day. To still be able to play at the age of 22 is really fun.”
O’Grady said he spoke with 13 different MLB teams within the week of the baseball draft. His first call came on June 6th. “I was actually at St. Martha’s for my niece’s kindergarten graduation when the Kansas City Royals called me to express interest,” he said. They selected a different player.
All was not lost though, as five minutes later he received the call that he had been waiting all his young life, this time from the Reds.
“The waiting between the phone call and my actual selection was kind of nerve-wracking,” O’Grady said. Surrounded by his family and his girlfriend, his dream was soon realized.
“When the moment arrived for my selection, it made everything worthwhile. All of the hard work, all of the games, picking the right college,” O’Grady said, “it finally paid off.”
“I am very happy for Brian,” Rutgers head coach Joe Litterio said. “He has worked very hard for this opportunity and I would like to thank him for his contributions to the program over his four years. We wish him the best of luck going forward.”
“My Dad drove me to all of my games growing up, and a lot of those games were far away. My Mom was also right there to cheer me on. And my brother and sister always supported me, they would check in with me after every game to see how it went. They’ve all been a huge support,” O’Grady said.
This week will be the first time O’Grady will be going on the road with the Mustangs, playing the first game tonight of a two-game series against the Helena Brewers.
“I love it. I love the competition and I love putting in the hard work to perform. To play baseball as a job is really fun, it’s a lifelong dream!” he said.