The 1981 me was a sophomore at Kapaun Mount Carmel and not interested in Wichita State baseball, at all. Obviously, I lacked guidance and good role models because nobody pulled me aside to say “Hey, Joe Carter is a great baseball player and you might want to see him play, if for no other reason than to say you did.”
Nobody did that for me - Steve Boleski, I’m looking at you. I’m here to help you out in 2014.
Interest is dipping in Wichita State baseball because the Shockers are average and have been for several years. While weather is a factor, the excitement (and fans) that used to fill Eck Stadium for a game against Oklahoma State or Kansas is slipping away.
So some of you may have missed Casey Gillaspie’s talents. The WSU first baseman, named Friday as one of 30 players on the Golden Spikes Award watch list, is one of the nation’s best hitters. I can’t guarantee he will play in the big leagues, but people smarter than I are confident. He appears to be a solid bet as a first-round draft pick, a rarity for Shocker position players.
Here they are: Joseph Krsnich (1972, Yankees), Joe Carter (1981, Cubs), Russ Morman (1983, White Sox), Conor Gillaspie (2008 Giants).
WSU plays its final home series this weekend. Casey Gillaspie enters Friday’s game against Dallas Baptist ranking in the top 20 nationally in nine offensive categories, including:
- Batting average, .401 (13th)
- Home runs, 13 (7th)
- On-base percentage, .511 (4th)
- Slugging percentage, .689 (5th)
- Walks, 41 (4th)
He is the first Shocker to hit more than 11 homers since 2004, a feat made more impressive by the BBCOR bats that tone down the pop since introduced in 2011. Since 2000, only Chris O’Brien (2011), Conor Gillaspie (2008) and Brian Burgamy (2002) have hit .400 for the Shockers.
Gillaspie is one of the greatest hitters in a program full of them, a status that might get overlooked because of the team’s struggles. Learn from my mistake – it’s worth a trip to Eck Stadium to see a rare talent finish his days in a Shocker uniform.