Sunday, December 17, 2017
News Roundup

Hernando County baseball pro gives credit to his parents

Mike Adams had quite a June.

On the first of the month, his University of Tampa baseball team won the Division II NCAA title game in Cary, N.C.

A week later, he was drafted in the seventh round by the Boston Red Sox. On June 29, he signed with the team for $150,000.

He didn't cause the same sensation as Hernando High's Christian Arroyo, the first pick of the San Francisco Giants, who signed for more than 10 times that sum.

But Adams is the first alumnus of Nature Coast Technical High School to be drafted by a professional team in any major sport. And beyond that, his signing sends a reassuring message to all parents.

It shows that once in a while it pays off to spend hours tossing the ball with your kid, to drive to all those weekend tournaments, to work two jobs to pay for the travel and the $300 bats and baseball gloves.

A few kids really are as talented and committed as their parents think they are.

It's possible for them to grow up humble and even grateful.

Yes, good things can happen to hard-working parents who seem to deserve it.

Mike's mother, Michelle, was the primary wage earner when he and his sister, Alexis, 20, were young children. She now works as a customer liaison for a home health care company and at Guido's Italian Restaurant, in Spring Hill, where she has been a server for eight years.

She's always running to one of her jobs or one of her kids' games, said Evie Fasaro, a coworker at Guido's and the mother of one of Mike's best youth baseball buddies.

"She's been the catalyst for all this, and Mike's biggest fan," Fasaro said. "And when I say 'fan,' I don't just mean sitting in the stands and cheering him on. I mean steering him in the right direction from day one."

When the news of Mike's selection came by text a few rounds earlier than his mother expected, she responded by — what, else? — heading off to Guido's.

"I had to work," she said. "I knew I couldn't get anyone to fill my shift on such short notice. ... I gave him a hug and a kiss and said, 'I've got to go.' "

Her husband, Michael, has been a physical education teacher in Hernando schools since 2002, the past four years at Eastside Elementary.

When Mike's dad was younger, he toured with a semi-professional softball team on the weekends, and during the week, every afternoon, played ball with his son and daughter, who is now a scholarship softball player at South Florida State College in Avon Park.

Even 20 years ago, Mike's dad was thinking of a future pro career for him, turning the natural right-hander around to throw and bat lefty. That's what got him drafted, he said, the premium that teams place on left-handed pitching.

But Michael wonders if his son, who has pinpoint control and a killer curve ball, would have a bit more snap on his 90 mph fastball if he had just let him throw his way. Not that he regrets it. No, his only regret is that he didn't do more.

"If I had to do it over again, he'd be throwing change ups when he was 8 years old," his father said.

If it sounds to you more like pushing and than playing, Mike says otherwise.

He wanted it as badly as his dad did, he said, "and my parents have been awesome the whole time."

So far, he hasn't celebrated any more than his mother did.

He doesn't do drugs or alcohol, doesn't smoke, dip or chew tobacco. "That stuff grosses me out," he said.

He's happy to keep driving his 2003 Ford Ranger. The only major purchase he plans is a new pair of Oakley sunglasses.

Mike, who will return to Tampa in the fall to finish up his degree in physical education, was assigned to the Class A Lowell (Mass.) Spinners.

Having just finished a long college season, he's not throwing much, just trying to get a couple more miles per hour out of his left arm, trying to ensure, though he knows it's a long shot, that this June is just the first of many good months he has in professional baseball.

He's just working out, working hard. What else?

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