Red Sox star Pedroia returns to Nevada to benefit WNC, Galena | NevadaAppeal.com
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Red Sox star Pedroia returns to Nevada to benefit WNC, Galena

Justin Lawson
jlawson@nevadaappeal.com

RENO – Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia is known around the Major Leagues as a guy who is never short on words. And on Saturday night Western Nevada College baseball player Kramer Champlin got a first-hand account of the former MVP and Rookie of the Year’s trash-talking style.

“Kramer? That’s your first name? Like the guy from Seinfeld,” Pedroia said to a round of laughs from members of the Wildcats’ baseball and softball teams.

Pedroia was clearly joking, cementing the impression that nearly every person in the room had of him as just an ordinary guy, who happens to be good at baseball.

“It was good to have him come,” said Champlin, who will attend Pedroia’s alma mater, Arizona State, next school year on a baseball scholarship. “He seemed like a normal guy. He had a normal approach to the game. What I try to model over.”

After Pedroia was done fielding questions from the athletes, he moved on to a crowd of about 750 people at the Peppermill Resort Casino in Reno as the keynote speaker for a fundraiser benefiting the Wildcats’ athletics programs and Galena baseball.

“When coach McNutt asks me to do something, I’ll do it,” Pedroia said referring to former Carson High and current Galena baseball coach Ron McNutt.

Pedroia played for McNutt on the Carson Capitals, a traveling summer baseball team that in 2000 and 2001 featured future Major Leaguers Pedroia, J.P. Howell (Tampa Bay Rays) along with several Division I players.

“It was fun playing here,” Pedroia said. “It was kind of like a first step of me growing up; get a chance to live on my own, play ball everyday.

“We played a lot of games, like 60 games in 50 days or so. I made a lot of good friends, got a chance to meet coach McNutt and play for him. It’s been a blast. This place has treated me great.”

Pedroia, who grew up in Woodland, Calif., outside of Sacramento, went on to be drafted 65th overall by the Red Sox in 2004. He was named the American League Rookie of the Year in 2006 when he helped lead the Red Sox to a four-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies in the Wold Series. He was named the AL MVP the following year, joining Cal Ripken Jr., Ryan Howard and Ichiro Susuki as the only players to be named Rookie of the Year and MVP in consecutive seasons.

“He just seemed like a real guy,” WNC baseball coach D.J. Whittemore said. “Sometimes sports figures become mythical and he’s just an ordinary guy, who said, ‘I like to work hard and I feel like if I take good care of my body, then I’ve got a chance.’ He talked about keeping it simple and mom and dad being role models.

“Really refreshing in this day and age of steroids and scandals to have somebody that you can look up to without having to put him up on a pedestal. So, a really special opportunity for all of us to get know him.”

After Pedroia finished addressing the players in the room, the Wildcats’ baseball team announced the signing of seven players for the 2011 season.

Those players were: Nick Finney, first baseman from McQueen; Justin Farley, shortstop from Bishop Manogue; Neil Lawhorn, catcher/outfielder out of Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas; Brady Shipley, right-handed pitcher/shortstop from North Medford (Ore.); Trevor Martin, shortstop out of West Seattle (Wash.); Sean Rehon, outfield/catcher from Payallup (Wash.); and Bobby Pappin out of Alta (Salt Lake City).

“It’s a pretty exciting thing for me and family to be here, to just experience all this,” Shipley said. “It’s definitely a good environment. People are great here.”