Oakville native Ryan Plourde: Pro ball player.
ARIZONA: As he sat around late on Saturday July fifth after winding down after a long holiday weekend, Ryan Plourde had no idea how much his life was about to change.
The former Holy Cross baseball star had done it all during his three years of summer baseball eligibility.
He had played a couple of season with the Torrington Titans after his freshman and sophomore years at Fairfield where he simply was pounding the baseball around in both places.
A catcher by trade and an outfielder by design, Plourde was simply ‘That’ guy you wanted on your team.
When the phone rang and a representative of the Chicago White Sox was on the other end of the phone saying they had an opening and would he be interested, Plourde was stunned and beyond happy.
“I can’t put it into words.” Plourde said. “I was and still am on Cloud nine.”
Two nights later he was airborne, on his way to Arizona to play in the Arizona Rookie League, a professional baseball player, getting paid to do what he has done for free for nearly 15-years.
Just the week before, he had been playing in the Tri-State baseball League for the Brass City Brew while working out for as many big league teams as he could.
“I had a tryout at Pawtucket for the Red Sox and had been talking to an Independent Team, the Rockland Boulders.” Plourde explained. “I was going to attend an open workout in Torrington (July 12-13) but got the call on Saturday.”
When he came to Torrington for the 2011 campaign in the newly formed, four-team Futures Collegiate Baseball League, Plourde came back to a park (Fuessenich Park) that he knew well from his days as a Crusader and during his days with American Legion.
“I always liked playing here.” Plourde said back when he helped christen the new league that has now grown to 10 teams.
From day one, he was the face of the franchise, the player you could always get to say a few words either after a win or a loss. He understood that with his role behind the plate came the responsibility to talk about what went on during the game.
He never disappointed.
His two years in Torrington produced records of 25-17 and 29-22 and after a slow start in his first year, Plourde was a force at the plate in 2012.
He batted .311 in 51 games with four home runs and 29 RBI’s.
The combination of Conor Bierfeldt (.329, nine HR’s, 39 RBI’s) and Plourde gave the Titans one of the toughest middle of the lineups in the FCBL.
After those two seasons with the FCBL and three monster years with Fairfield, Plourde tok his talents to the New England Collegiate Baseball League and played for the New Bedford Bay Sox, formally the Torrington Twisters.
He exceled there as well, batting .292 in 43 games with 45 hits, 35 runs scored and an on base percentage of .433.
That performance got the attention of the Chatham Anglers of the Cape Cod League, the hallmark of summer baseball leagues.
While he played in only two games (3-7 with a walk), the time at that level did wonders for his confidence.
“It showed I belonged, I could play at that level.” Plourde said. “I used my time there to soak up and learn as much as I could from the other players and coaches.”
Was the Cape everything he thought it was going to be?
“It lives up to the hype.” Plourde said. “The town may not close down completely but it’s close to it. They know their baseball and really embrace the players throughout the community. When they find out you are a player in the league, everybody stops and talk to you about baseball. It’s great.”
He credits his father Gary for helping him along the long journey from back yard catches to being a pro player.
“”My dad was throwing with me from a very young age,” Plourde said. “All my coaches helped along with my teammates who pushed me to get better.”
He played all around the Waterbury/Oakville area. North End, Town Hill, Bucks Hill, and then at Cross and Fairfield.
It’s time to make a living at playing his game and Plourde is more than eager to get started.
For the time being, he will work on getting his routine down, get settled into the player’s apartments and get about the business of eat/play/eat.
A day in the life of a ball player.
Oh yeah, and have some fun.
Congrats to another one of the good guys.
Go live your dream Mr. Plourde, we’ll be watching with pride.