Bruce Chick is a traveling man. From St. Petersburg High School to the University of Georgia, to Harwich in the Cape Cod League, to Winter Haven in the Gulf Coast Rookie League and the Florida State League, and finally to the Lynchburg Red Sox in the Carolina League.
And if everything works out for the former Green Devils outfielder, he'll eventually move up to New Britain and Pawtucket en route to his ultimate goal: Fenway Park, home of the parent Boston Red Sox.
"I'm here (Lynchburg) for the same reason everyone else is here," said Chick by telephone from Hampton, Va. "I just want to get my fair shot at making it. And I also enjoy playing baseball."
Chick is making his mark with his bat: third in the league with a .323 batting average and a club-leading 61 hits, including 11 doubles. By way of consistency, he hasn't gone two consecutive starts without a hit.
Success on the diamond isn't new to Chick. He was a key member of the 1990 College World Series Champion Georgia Bulldogs as a junior. The Red Sox drafted him in the 15th round and sent him to the Gulf Coast League, where he hit .323 in 24 games. He moved up to Winter Haven in the Florida State League and his average plummeted to .227. "He was tired from playing every day, something he wasn't used to at Georgia," said Sean Holiday, a member of the Red Sox public relations staff.
"That's been the biggest adjustment for me going from college to professional baseball, playing every day," Chick said. "The summer at Harwich in the Cape Cod League was a big help, though, because I got used to a wooden bat."
Centerfield has also been an adjustment for Chick: "If you're not blessed with amazing speed, you've got to get a good reading on the ball and cut off the angles."
Chick credits high school coach Rick Chapman with teaching him the basics at St. Petersburg High. "He was my former basketball coach, and when he took over the baseball program he shifted me from the infield to rightfield and taught me how to play the position," said Chick, who stands 6-4 and weighs 215. "That really worked out for me because when I got to Georgia, that's what they needed."
Although Chick left Georgia after his junior year, he went back last winter to make up the first of the four quarters he needs to complete his degree in sports science.
"Hopefully I'll be called up to New Britain (Class AA) before the end of the season," Chick added. "When college players make it (to the majors), they usually don't stay in the minors six years or so the way Wade Boggs did."
Lynchburg manager Buddy Bailey is high on Chick: "He's the hardest worker on the team. He's got good instincts and the ability to make it to the big leagues. His work ethic reminds me of Dale Murphy (Phillies outfielder), always trying to improve."
College World Series: Jim Hendry, head coach of the Creighton University Bluejays, played his high school baseball under Greg Nichols at Dunedin High in 1972. "He was an average outfielder but a real student of the game," Nichols recalled. Hendry played collegiately at Mars Hill in North Carolina before starting his coaching career at Christopher Columbus High in Miami. From there he went to Omaha, Neb., to coach the high-flying Bluejays, who were eliminated Thursday night by Wichita State in the College World Series.
Home from Iraq: Warren Hannan, a 1987 graduate of Boca Ciega High, was expected home in St. Petersburg this past weekend after completing a tour of duty with the Army in the Middle East. Hannan was the Times' 1987 Athlete of the Year in track and field as a sprinter, long and triple jumper. He took third in the state 3A meet in the triple his senior year. After his leave, Hannan is scheduled for reassignment to Germany.
Soccer: Chad Peterson, a 1989 graduate of Keswick Christian School, was recently awarded a varsity letter from North Park (Ill.) College for his play as the team's goalkeeper. Peterson is a business administration and youth ministries double major.