NEW YORK (June 1, 2012) — Northwoods League Alumni Lucas Duda (right) and Terry Collins are finding their success in one of the largest markets in the world, New York City. Collins is currently the manager for the New York Mets and Duda is his starting right fielder.
Collins was named field manager of the Duluth Huskies in July 2009 after the Huskies fired their field manager a few days before. Duda was a Northwoods League All-Star in 2006 as he represented the Alexandria Beetles. Duda is currently the eighth Alexandria player to play in Major League Baseball. Duda currently holds Alexandria’s single-season record for RBI with 51 in 2006.
In Wednesday’s loss to Philadelphia, Duda went 3-for-4 with two runs scored. He hit two home runs and drove in three RBI in the 10-6 loss. Duda currently has seven home runs on the year and 26 RBI and is helping Collins and the Mets stay in reach of first place in their division. They currently sit in third place in the tight race of the National League East Division behind the Washington Nationals and Miami Marlins.
You can check out the mlb.com article on Duda and Collins here.
While hundreds of former Northwoods League players are participating in Spring Training, two former NWLers are taking a slightly different path to fulfill their baseball dreams. Ben Smith and Jared Johnson will appear as contestants on an ABC social reality show on Saturday afternoon with a chance to earn a spot to New York Mets Spring Training. Bud United presents: The Big Time airs Saturday, March 3 at 3 pm ET (2 pm CT) on ABC.
In the show, Smith and Johnson are two of the three aspiring baseball pitchers – all cast via social media channels – that work under legendary coach Tom House to test their throwing skills from the mound at CitiField, home of the New York Mets. After being put to a series of baseball challenges, the winner will ultimately earn a spot in the starting rotation of the Brooklyn Cyclones, vying for a chance to join the Mets at Spring Training.
In this video, Jared Johnson speaks about why his baseball career stopped, but how it also saved his life.
Johnson played for the Madison Mallards in the summer of 2004. He was a .254 hitter with eight doubles, three home runs and 12 RBIs. He also pitched in relief in three games going 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA.
Smith was an Alexandria Beetles pitcher for two summers. He spent June of 2005 in Alexandria before leaving the team because of an injury. In 5 appearances he went 1-2 with a 6.75 ERA. He returned in 2006 and in 9 appearances had a 0-0 record and 6.28 ERA.
In the video below, Smith talks about his experience in New York for the filming of the episode.
About Ben Smith (27 years old)
In high school, Ben was a promising, but not spectacular pitcher. He was recruited and offered MLB development contracts, but turned them down, thinking that he might get a better offer after playing college ball and improving further. However, while Ben was in college, his father became terminally ill. Ben left school, and his baseball career, behind and came home to help his mother care for his father and his disabled brother, who has cerebral palsy. After going home to take care of his family and support his mother, Ben let go of his dream of playing professional ball and eventually moved on to become a personal trainer. After not throwing a “serious” pitch in over 5 years, Ben discovered he could still throw 95 mph fastballs with great accuracy. Although he’s still hesitant to leave his mother alone, her excitement over his opportunity has reignited his passion for the game.
About Jared Johnson (29 years old)
Superstar athlete Jared was a shoo-in for a career in baseball until disaster struck when he was diagnosed with metastatic Stage IV testicular cancer. With only a 4% chance of survival, Jared battled through chemo with the help of the extraordinary muscle and bone density gained from playing baseball. After high doses of chemo and major surgery, Jared miraculously was given the all-clear. But the surgery, which had cracked his body open from neck to groin, left him unable to recover his previous hitting prowess – the muscles simply weren’t able to knit themselves back together as they were before. After struggling through years of rehab, Jared discovered that he was still able to function at a high level on the other side of the field as a pitcher. Unfortunately, the low pay of minor and independent league play is not enough to support a family, so Jared still dreams of one day making it to the big leagues.
When St. Louis Cardinals’ outfielder Allen Craig was coming up with clutch pinch-hit singles, big home runs, and memorable defensive plays during this year’s World Series, the world was watching. One group of people with an interesting perspective on the former Alexandria Beetles’ player’s rise to prominence is the Alexandria family that called him a son for a couple summers not too many years ago.
The Brands are just like the rest of the hundreds of families that share their home with a Northwoods League player each summer. They are giving people that see value in trading space in their house and extra groceries for a few months for the opportunity to help a young man that’s trying to live his dream. Not only does this type of exchange make it possible for each Northwoods League franchise to exist and make a positive impact on the community, but it also makes it possible for the giving family to build lasting relationships with special individuals.
The Brands were able to watch their former host son excel on baseball’s grandest stage.
(Alexandria, MN) The Alexandria Beetles have inked another pitcher to the 2010 roster with the signing of Bryce Rippintrop. The Hector, Minnesota native has also seen time at shortstop and outfield this season playing for the Dakota County Technical College Blue Knights. Rippintrop, who just finished up his freshman season, appeared in 12 games for the Blue Knights this spring, starting six. The right-hander posted a 6-3 record with a 4.24 earned-run average in his rookie campaign.
Rippintrop also showed his versatility at the plate, batting .407 in 54 plate appearances with two home-runs and 23 RBI for the 32-17 Blue Knights.
The Beetles will open their 10th anniversary season June 2nd against the Brainerd Lakes Area Lunkers at Knute Nelson Memorial Park. First pitch is set for 6:05 pm.
(Alexandria, MN) Cody Curry, a 2007 graduate of Jefferson High School has signed a temporary contract to play for the Beetles.
A temporary contract means a player must play a minimum of 10 days and can play as long as June 30. The player may continue to play as long as they sign a full-term contract.
Curry, currently a Junior at Southwest Minnesota State (Marshall, MN) is hitting a whopping .473 in 31 games and has a slugging percentage of .691. Prior to his arrival at Southwest State, Curry played two seasons at Fergus Falls C.C. His last season in Fergus Curry hit .441 and was named to the all-division and all-state teams.
“We’re always happy to have a local kid playing for the Beetles, but that’s not the only reason we’re bringing Cody on board, he’s obviously having a great spring at Southwest Minnesota State,” said Beetles owner and GM Shawn Reilly.