Veteran Leadership Bodes Well for the Brockton Rox in 2011
May 22, 2011
Every spring and summer, dreams live on the diamonds of the Canadian-American League. Young players who have been ignored by scouts or recently released by affiliated clubs find a second professional baseball life in independent baseball. Driven to succeed and to prove the experts wrong, they infuse the league with energy and excitement.
Meanwhile, a number of veteran players share the spotlight with them and even raise the level of play and competition across the league. Just like their younger teammates, these veterans are also driven by dreams, goals, and the camaraderie of their teammates that is a unique component of the game.
In many instances, these men have become fixtures in the lineups of their respective clubs, providing their fans with familiar names and faces to support. Perhaps unseen by the fans, however, is how these veteran players often embrace an essential and time-honored aspect of the game, sharing the gift of experience and knowledge with their teammates.
Over the past few years, the Brockton Rox of the Can-Am League have reaped the benefits of this aspect of the game’s complex culture. Subsequently, the club has enjoyed a tremendous level of success by retaining a core group of talented veteran players in the past few years.
Leading this year’s cast of veterans is the charismatic first baseman Melvin Falu. One of the league’s most feared hitters, Falu hits for both average and power. Even when he is behind in the count, Falu’s composure under pressure is a testament to his preparation and execution.
Then there is the power-hitting outfielder, Keith Brachold, whose veteran leadership is reflected in his desire to compete and the camaraderie he shares with his teammates.
Behind the plate is the club’s catcher, Chris Grossman. As a veteran, he enjoys employing an analytical approach to the game. He relishes the opportunity to share his experience and knowledge of the game with his teammates.
On the mound, Freddy Flores, who at 37 years old is the club’s eldest player, a leader on and off the field. Flores, who has coached women’s college softball for 10 years, relates well to the younger players, veterans, and the coaching staff alike.
Finally, there are a handful of other Brockton players who have called the “City of Champions” home for at least the past two seasons or longer. Included in this group is the fleet-footed center fielder Chris Valencia, reliable shortstop Dominic Ramos, lefty bullpen stalwart Brad Hertzler, and last season’s league leader in wins and ERA, Mike Smith. In addition, Smith will pitch and serve as the club’s pitching coach in 2011.
Brockton’s ability to maintain this core of veteran leadership has provided the franchise with stability on the field and in the community. In the past three seasons, the Brockton Rox have compiled a record of 157-123 (.561).
This season, with new uniforms and many familiar faces, the Rox appear poised to compete once again for the Can-Am title and provide quality entertainment for their fans across the league.
Paul Edwards is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Learn more about SABR by visiting http://sabr.org.