Vol. LXIV, No. 27
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
(Photo by Stephen Goldsmith)
CATCHING ON: Former Princeton High standout Steven Fuchs receives the ball in his role as a back-up catcher for the Princeton University baseball team. Fuchs was not recruited by the PU baseball program and survived a try-out last fall to make the Tigers as a walk-on.
For Steven Fuchs, his work isnt done this summer with the Princeton Post 218 American Legion baseball team when the final out is recorded.
On most nights, Fuchs stays after games to run laps around the field in his catchers gear to get in some extra conditioning.
Utilizing that sterling work ethic, the former Princeton High standout made the Princeton University baseball team as a walk-on this season in his freshman year.
In order to get a look from the Tigers, Fuchs had to reach out to PU head coach Scott Bradley.
I got into Williams College and Princeton, but there were no guarantees at either school in terms of baseball, said Fuchs, who was not recruited by any college baseball teams.
If I didnt make the team, I thought I would be better off at a place like Princeton. When I got into Princeton, the first e-mail I sent was to coach Bradley. I told him I was coming to Princeton and that I would love to play for his team and what do I need to do. He came out to one of the Hopewell Valley games to watch me and he told me I was welcome to come out.
Armed with that opportunity, Fuchs had to fight tooth and nail to survive the programs fall ball season.
It was a shock in September; I was playing with some really established players, said Fuchs, who played three years on the PHS varsity baseball team and also lettered two years in basketball.
It was a big step up for me; a lot of those guys had played in high level leagues so Princeton was a logical step for them. I had to improve much quicker than I expected. I worked hard and did everything that the coaches told me to do. I played in some scrimmages; I didnt feel like I didnt belong. There was a spot for a bullpen catcher; everyone needs that. I figured once I was on the team anything could happen.
At the end of the fall, Fuchs wasnt sure whether he had survived. I didnt hear anything from coach Bradley at the end of the fall season, recalled Fuchs. I sent him an e-mail asking about my status and he said there is a jersey there for you. I said thats great.
Fuchs put in plenty of work over the winter to prepare for his first campaign of college baseball.
The coaches expect us to work on our own, said the 61, 190-pound Fuchs who is sporting a crew cut this summer.
In the winter, the focus is on the pitchers strengthening their arms. Everyone is expected to be ready to play a game on February 1 when we start. It is very professional. The coaches tell you what to do and it is your responsibility to do it. You are a man now.
Fuchs didnt get to do a lot in games this past spring as he served as the bullpen catcher, getting into just four games in a pinch-hitting role.
The upbeat Fuchs made the most of his situation. I take pride in my role; I help the pitching staff and when they do well, it feels good, said the earnest Fuchs, an Eagle Scout who won the PHS Gold Key Award as a senior.
I get a lot of work. I am at the pitchers call and I thought it was rewarding. If I am not going to be playing, it is good to be moving around and being part of the action. It is better than sitting on the bench the whole game.
For Fuchs, his four appearances for PU left indelible memories. I cherished my at-bats, said Fuchs.
We were down 24 runs at the University of North Carolina the first time I got in so there was not much I could do. I hit a line drive with two strikes on me to make the last out. Against Rutgers, I hit a ball to center field and I was thinking I wish I was at Smoyer Park, that ball would been out of there.
This summer, Fuchs has been coming up with plenty of hits at Smoyer for Post 218, standing out as a major bright spot in a season that has seen the team struggle to a 3-17 record.
Playing catcher and outfield for Post 218, Fuchs has produced a slew of multi-hit games in recent action. Last Wednesday, he went 3-for-4 with two two-run homers in a 6-4 loss to North Trenton Post 458.
After spending the spring on the bench, Fuchs is relishing the chance to apply what he learned through his experience with PU.
I am excited to be on the field again, said Fuchs, who is also working part-time at Olives Restaurant this summer and is taking an organic chemistry course.
I am trying my new blocking technique; I am throwing down to second. I am working on stuff.
Getting more seasoned this summer should help Fuchs as he looks to make more of an impact in his sophomore year at Princeton.
I think I want to be less of an apprentice and more of a competitor, said Fuchs, reflecting on his goals for his second college season. If I get into games next year, I will be prepared to compete.
As Fuchs logs his post-game laps this summer, there can be no question that he will go the extra mile to be prepared.
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