Before Jose Ramirez, Michael Brantley or any of the other Indians All-Stars take the field at Nationals Park this week an area athlete will get his turn.
Wadsworth 8-year-old Brysen Hall will take to the diamond today after qualifying for Major League Baseball’s Pitch, Hit and Run competition.
Hall was one of 12 players from across the country to qualify after winning the event at Progressive Field late last month. In all, 24 youth players — the other 12 are in softball — ages 7-14 will showcase their skills.
“It is really exciting because I get to meet a lot of good players and most are my favorites, so it’s really cool,” said Brysen, whose favorite player is Tribe All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor. “It was cool just to see how big it was and actually get to play on it.”
Hall, a student at Franklin Elementary, earned his trip to Washington D.C. by winning a competition in Sandusky, followed by the sectional event in Struthers, Ohio. He then won the team championship round at Progressive Field putting him in the running for one of the qualifying spots.
With competitions in all 30 MLB cities, the individuals were evaluated by overall scores in their age group. Hall recorded one of the top scores along with Diego Ortiz (Whittier, Calif.) and Brandon Wilson (Kansas City, Kan.).
His best score during the three competitions came in Cleveland which, according to his father Ben, was enough to put him over the top.
“He just put it all together that day, when he needed it the most to get the opportunity,” Ben said. “Once he won that, he was very proud of himself and making it to the All-Star Game is a bonus.”
Brysen will throw six pitches from 45-feet away with the goal of hitting the equivalent of a Major League strike zone to earn points, before getting three swings to hit off a tee where he’s scores on both distance and accuracy. The county resident will then run 180-feet starting at second base and going to home plate where he will be scored on an established conversion chart.
“My favorite part is the hitting,” Brysen said. “I’ve been hitting off of a tee since I was 3 years old and I hit in my basement a lot. I like hitting, but I like playing in the field, too.”
Along with pitching and playing first base for the Wadsworth Outlaws, a community-based travel team, Brysen also plays football and basketball. Brysen, who will turn nine on Aug. 1, also likes to fish, swim and color in his free time. He even got to serve as one of the water boys for the Grizzlies football team this past fall.
He’s no stranger to national competition, either, as he competed in the NFL’s Punt, Pass and Kick event a year ago, making the team championship in that, as well.
“Football and baseball I like the same,” he said. “It’s fun to see how big the fields are and it’s fun to get to play on all the big fields. I like to be outside.”
If it wasn’t enough being able to lace-up the cleats and run on a Major-League diamond, Brysen and the other junior players will get to watch the American and National League take batting practice before shagging fly balls in the outfield during the home-run competition.
Ben and his wife, Kelly are proud to get to see their son live out one of his dreams.
“I was never able to accomplish the stuff he has already,” Ben said. “We just wanted to introduce as many things to him as possible. We’ve never forced a sport, just wanted to introduce him to as many as we could. Our hope is he will just pick and choose and find the ones he enjoys the most.
“We’re pretty proud of him.”