Niagara Gazette

Sports

May 1, 2008

BASEBALL: NT's Brooks still trying to find niche

In 2005, the Chicago White Sox drafted North Tonawanda native Ricky Brooks in the third round of the Major League Baseball draft.

It’s now 2008, and Brooks is still working his way to the major leagues.

“My progress has been slow and steady. I’m not moving up quick. It’s just level to level, trying to work on things,” he said. “People don’t understand if you were a decent college player, you might not get past Class A.”

Brooks was a decent college pitcher at East Carolina University, where he tossed the first nine-inning no-hitter in Conference USA history.

But it’s not just baseball Brooks has to deal with; it’s the mental and physical aspect of the game that can be draining.

“Physically, 140 games in 150 days, I don’t know if that many people know how many games we play,” the 2003 graduate of North Tonawanda High School said. “Mentally, you’re away from your friends, and you have a bad game and it just gets on you. Its just long, long days and it’s just a grind.”

Brooks often feels pressure to succeed, not only for a city and a college, but for himself.

“There’s a lot of pressure. I want to do well for North Tonawanda, but at the same time I want to do well for myself. I’m also representing my college,” he said. “I probably put pressure on myself, though, because I just want to go out and do good every time, and hopefully eventually make it to the major leagues.”

Brooks has the opportunity to do something not many people have, and when he comes home, he has to answer questions about his progress to friends and family.

“I come back home and people are asking me what’s going on, and I’m like, ‘I’m still in Class A Advanced.’ ‘They’re like how come you’re not in the majors?’ Brooks said. “I just tell them, it’s not as easy as you think.”

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