Fifteen-year-old Darin Fodor is enjoying playing AAA ball and he hopes this step up in the sport of baseball will help him realize his dream to play professionally.
For Fodor, one of three Lacombians playing for the Red Deer AAA Bantam Braves, this is his first year playing AAA. Fodor said he decided to try out for AAA ball this year because he wanted to see how far he could go within the sports. Last season, he played AA and this year thought he would try and take it a step further.
Fodor has been playing baseball for about seven years. Going to school in Satinwood just outside Lacombe, he was one of the first to sign up when some of the parents at the school decided to start a team.
It was not long before he was hooked. He said he quickly fell in love with the sport and hasn’t stopped playing since. Fodor added it is the variety and changeability that he most enjoys
“Any given day, the game can go any which way. One day, one team can be on the top and another day, the underdog, the team that nobody expects to win can win.”
Teamwork is another part of the game that Fodor enjoys. He said that knowing you can rely on your teammates and that they can rely on you is encouraging.
He also commented on the interesting dynamic in baseball, that it is both a team and an individual sport in some ways. He said that, when playing the defensive side, a player’s actions have a bigger impact on the team as a whole and teamwork is more of a factor and players feel a part of something bigger. While on the offensive, players are on their own, but the team is still there in the background.
“You have your team at your back and everybody is cheering you on and usually that drives you to do your best.”
Trying out for the AAA team was a competitive but friendly process, said Fodor.
He added the coaches did a good job of keeping the environment relaxed enough to take the edge off a bit while still keeping players focus on the task at hand – making the team. When he did make the team, he was both excited and a little surprised.
“I was hoping to make the team, but there was a part of me that didn’t want to get too far ahead of myself.”
It took a little time for Fodor to adjust to playing at a higher level of ball. By his first time at bat though, it seemed clear he had found his feet.
“At first I was nervous,” he said. “My first (time) at bat, I was nervous. But as soon as I hit that first ball, I ended up getting a triple and after that my shoulders could kind of ease a little bit. I felt like I wasn’t carrying so much weight on my shoulders anymore.”
This year’s AAA Red Deer Bantam Braves team is a strong one, said Fodor.
The team has a fairly even record, and Fodor said he has enjoyed learning to play ball at a higher caliber.
He added he has certainly noticed a difference in both the level of player skill and competition playing AAA. He also said player ability in certain skills like pitching and hitting is also more noticeable.
“In AAA there are definitely less mistakes. A lot of the players, they’re there for a reason and they can execute consistently.”
AAA ball is not the end goal for Fodor. He said he plans to go as far as he can in the sport. He said he would like to play college ball one day and if possible, would even like to play as a professional in the major leagues.
“That would be my end dream.”
In any case, he plans to keep baseball a part of his life for a very long time even if it is just as part of a recreational league in the future.