The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Sports

June 11, 2013

A Don McCormack column: Baseball brothers

Blair and Easton excited, humbled

JEFFERSON TOWNSHIP — They haven’t reached The Show, yet, but Tuesday night, they were The Biggest Show in Town.

Zak Blair and Brandon Easton, two Ashtabula County guys who were selected in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft last Saturday, met at the request of yours truly at the beautiful Havens Complex for a photo session.

And not only was it the first time Blair, the former Jefferson star, and Easton, the former Pymatuning Valley great, met, it was like a walk on the red carpet for them.

With Little League games and legion-level games going on throughout the hustling and bustling ballpark, it didn’t take long for Blair and Easton to be treated like celebrities.

Signing some autographs will make anyone feel that way, after all.

“It was really cool,” Easton, the Lakeland Community College product selected in the 24th round by the Minnesota Twins said. “It was a lot of fun. So many people are so happy for us, it really makes you feel good about where we come from.”

Blair’s feelings mirrored Easton’s.

“It was a special thing for me, actually,” the Mercyhurst University graduate taken in the 20th round of the draft by the Chicago Cubs said. “There are so many people who come up and say, ‘congratulations,’ or ‘good luck’ or ‘we’re proud of you’... it really is all so very humbling.”

And the first meeting between the ballplayers proved enjoyable.

“Oh, man, it was great to finally meet Zak!” Easton said. “I have heard and read so much about him, it was awesome to have a chance to shake his hand and talk to him.”

“Brandon is a really cool guy,” Blair said. “It was awesome to meet him. It was fun talking to him. We exchanged numbers and we’re definitely going to stay in touch.”

The two guys made impressions on each other.

“I’m taller than Zak, yes, but he is really put together!” Easton said of the broad-shouldered, 5-foot-10, 195 pound middle infielder. “I can see how strong the guy is, that’s for sure.”

“Brandon is really a big guy!” Blair said of the 6-6, 195-pound southpaw. “I mean, I didn’t realize just how tall he is and with his height, he can easily put on some more weight and up his velocity even more... and it’s at what, 90-91 already?

“That’s ridiculous.”

Easton will sign his contract either today or Thursday, then fly from Cleveland to Ft. Meyers, Fla. later Thursday.

“They’re sending me to a mini-camp on Thursday there in Ft. Meyers,” he said. “That’s where one of their rookie-league teams (the Ft. Meyers Miracle, a member of the Florida State League) is based.

“I’ll probably either be staying there or sent to Tennessee.”

The Twins have a second rookie-league team in Elizabethtown, Tenn., the  Elizabethtown Twins, a member of the Appalachian League.

Blair, who signed his contract at Mercyhurst on Monday, is in for an experience today as he flies out of Cleveland at 10:25 a.m.

“I’m connecting in Charlotte, then fly to Phoenix, where I’ll land at 1:30 p.m.,” he said. “There’s supposed to be a representative from the Cubs to meet me there.”

And doing so in yet another rock-star way.

“The guy is supposed to meet me there with a sign with my name on it,” Blair said with a laugh. “I guess it will be like in the movies.”

Which was sort of what the former Falcon experienced last night.

“I purposely parked at the front of the complex because I wanted to just walk through the entire ballpark,” Blair said. “I just took my time and looked and listened, trying to take every single thing in. All these people were coming up and were so excited for me.

“I can’t begin to tell you how honored this whole thing makes me feel. These are things I will never, ever forget.

“I pretty much grew up here. I remember being in eighth grade and watching guys like Matt Mihoci and Zach Dennis and just thinking they were like gods because they were such great ballplayers. Then, as I got older, I got to know them and realized they are even better people.

“I hope some day, there may be someone who looks at me that way.”

Realize it or not, Zak, and Brandon, it’s already happening.

McCormack is the sports editor of the Star Beacon. Reach him at donmac@suite224.net.

1
Text Only
Sports
  • Danielle Zip-ing along

    Just minutes after Geneva’s Danielle Nicholson holed out on the 18th green at the Gray Course at Ohio State University during her freshman year to win the 2011 Division I state championship, the recruitment process of where she would go to college began.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Maruna headed for Mount

    LeeAnn Maruna never really expected to play collegiate golf. She was so taken aback when the opportunity presented itself, she didn’t know how to respond. After all, the Grand Valley graduate had only been playing the game for a few years.

    July 23, 2014

  • Crate Late Models featured

    The Evergreen Lake Park Campground Crate Late Models, the premier class at Raceway 7, will be featured Friday night as they race for $1,000 to win.

    July 23, 2014

  • Norm He’s the Norm

    In the early part of the 20th century, as golf was taking off in popularity, it was not uncommon for boys to take up the game after becoming caddies.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Don A Don McCormack column: The journey is what’s most important

    Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past couple of weeks, you’ve heard over and over and over how it’s been a half-century since one of Cleveland’s big three professional sports teams have won a championship.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Murdick wins as Big Block Modifieds return

    The BRP Big Block Modifed Tour returned to Raceway 7 with 21 of the region’s fastest Modifieds turning out for the scheduled 35-lap event, the first for the Modifieds at the northeast Ohio speedplant since 2005, an event won by Todd Burley.

    July 21, 2014

  • Dale Outdoors Insider, with Dale Sunderlin: Chances for controlled waterfowl hunting

    Waterfowl hunters are invited to participate in special drawings for controlled hunting opportunities, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Wildlife. The drawing dates and times are as follows:

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Kingsville gets it done

    In a rematch of a previous softball clash between the Kingsville 9-10-year-olds and those from Conneaut, Kingsville had settled thing quickly and decisively in a mercy-rule triumph.

    July 20, 2014

  • TD Club golf A Chris Larick column: TD Club hopes to score

    Though its life was never seriously threatened, the Ashtabula County Touchdown Club has suffered in recent years.

    July 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • Don A Don McCormack column: A heartfelt plea to curb violence

    Like everyone who loves soccer — and the rest of us whose interest level rises dramatically every four years when the World Cup comes around — Kevin Meier was appalled at the recent attack of soccer referee John Bieniewicz in Michigan by a player that resulted in Bieniewicz tragically dying.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

Little League All-Stars July 1 to 12
AP NASCAR Lastest News
AP NASCAR Sprint Cup Schedule
AP NASCAR Sprint Cup Standings
AP Auto Racing Photos
West Side Shootout 2014
Ashtabula County at State Track Meet
Jefferson vs Akron St. Vincent St. Mary Regional Softball
District Track 2014
Jefferson District Softball Tournament
Bob Walters 50 Years
Geneva vs Perry Division II District Semifinal
Sports Week in Review May 12 to May 17
Sports Week in Review May 5 to May 10 2014
Sports Week in Review April 28 to May 3
Sports Video Archive
House Ads
AP Video