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John Brady is about as traditional baseball as a guy be. The sophomore pitcher from Blue Springs South High School loves Fenway Park, hot dogs, and dreams of stepping to the plate in the bottom of the ninth, down 2, with the bases loaded. And like a true traditionalist, John doesn’t like the designated hitter rule. We sat down with him to learn what drives his traditional sense of baseball.

Some people describe you as a traditional baseball player. Do you think that’s accurate?
I don’t know — I just enjoy playing the game. I do like a lot of “traditional” baseball things, though. My favorite park is Fenway. How can you not love the history of that place? And yes, hot dogs are my favorite food. Ketchup and mustard only, no pickles, sauerkraut, sesame seeds or other funky stuff–just meat, ketchup/mustard and bun. I also think pitchers should have to hit. The DH has no place in professional baseball.

Those are all pretty traditional. You mentioned doing away with the DH. Why do you think pitchers in the American League should have to bat?
I think all players should have to step in the box and make it happen. There shouldn’t be any free rides. Plus, taking the bat out of the pitcher’s hand changes the whole dynamic of the game. It almost makes it easier for the AL managers if they don’t have to find pitchers who can hit. So, yeah, the AL should do away with the DH.

So, would you say that you’re more of a National League fan?
I wouldn’t say that. The Royals are my favorite team. That said, Clayton Kershaw is my favorite player. Kershaw’s home run against Kontos a few years ago was pure magic!

Considering you are a pitcher, it’s not surprising that you pick Kershaw as your favorite player. Are any other players on your list?
Bo Jackson. Dude was an animal! His attitude always seemed to be Go For It All. He never gave up.

He’s a great pick! He was an amazing baseball player and all-around athlete who proved it by playing two sports. Do you play any other sports?
Yeah, I also play football. My primary position has always been quarterback. But, I have also played free safety and wide out. I’ve actually played football longer than I’ve played baseball. I played basketball and ran track for a few years but eventually gave them up to focus on baseball and football.

Of the two–football and baseball, which is harder to play?
That’s a tough question. Each one is hard in its own way. If I had to pick only one though, baseball is harder. There are too many challenges in baseball. Plus, because there’s no clock, you have to play the game out–9 innings, 27 outs. There’s no taking a knee in order to run out the clock.

Speaking of challenges, what’s your biggest challenge in baseball?
Pitching to lefties. I’ve always struggled with it. It’s getting easier but I sometimes struggle to hit my spots when someone is standing on the left side. I’m learning to manage the situation by focusing on the pitch, not the batter.

IE Baseball John Brady

Brady on the mound at a showcase in Illinois

That’s a great attitude for managing a challenge. Did someone teach you that or did you learn it on your own?
Probably both. Coach Boenker told me to always get ahead in the count. I applied that advice and started to focus on throwing my pitch. To make it happen, I set my grip, see the glove, and execute my motion. When I do that, it’s almost like the batter disappears. That mental focus helped me throw a no-hitter last year.

Wow! A no-hitter! That’s really awesome. What advice would you give to a young player, to pay it forward, as they say?
It’s funny but my advice wouldn’t be about baseball. Now that I’m in high school and starting to look at different colleges, I’m beginning to realize the importance of grades. My parents always told me to focus on grades, but it’s your parents, right. It wasn’t real until a scout asked for my GPA. Thankfully, I’m a pretty good student, so I was able to give a decent answer. But, for his first question to be about grades told me a lot. I would stress that to any young players.

Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you?
There’s not a lot more to share. I’m a pretty normal guy. I watch ESPN, play XBox, enjoy hunting and fishing, and I love Adam Sandler movies. Waterboy is my favorite. “You can do it!”

In closing, can you tell us what playing for Inside Edge Baseball means to you?
Three things immediately come to mind. First, is the sense of community. One of my best baseball memories was traveling to St. Louis for a tournament last year. We had a great time on and off the field. Even though we played great, it’s the time hanging with the team families that I remember the most.

I also love that all the players and coaches focus on getting better. It doesn’t matter if it’s practice or a game, everyone brings an intensity to get better. Because of that, we have developed into an elite-level team that is ready to take on any just about anyone.

And lastly, I have to mention the sincere caring Todd Clausen and my coach John Boenker showed me. I broke my ankle last year on the last day of the high school tryout. I ended up in a boot for 7 weeks, which meant I missed the entire high-school season. That was a big hit that upset me pretty good. Todd and John both helped me through that trying time. They both talked with me and helped me understand that it was only a short setback. They also found ways to keep me involved at IE. They invited me to help coach the younger teams and I worked on pitching with other players. The caring they showed me really affected me in a GOOD way.

Call me traditional but that’s what IE Baseball is all about: community, respect, and a desire to always get better.