The Haverford School senior catcher and captain is leading the team in batting average (.426 after 17 games), hits (23), and RBI’s (24) as of April 24. The Cornell University-bound senior has been red-hot the past week, hitting two home runs with six RBI’s against Germantown Academy April 20 and three hits including a home run against Father Judge April 22. He played a key role in the Fords capturing the PAISAA state tournament title last spring. A versatile player, he has been the Fords’ designated hitter as a freshman, right fielder as a sophomore and first baseman as a junior. Last winter, he was assistant captain of Haverford School’s Independence League Championship ice hockey team and received All-Delco hockey honors.
Q: How do you see your leadership role as a catcher?
A: With catching comes a great deal of responsibility. You are not only charged with physically catching the ball, but you must also call pitches, position infielders, direct throws, and command the pitching staff. While some may think it’s too hard of a position, I enjoy it. Catching keeps me in the game mentally and allows me to play a larger role than if I were playing any other position.
Q: As a catcher, after seeing an opposing team’s hitter a come to the plate a couple of times in a game, you probably have a better idea of what to throw him late in a game. Can you give us an example of how this has worked in your favor?
A: Seeing a player hit multiple times definitely gives me a better idea of how to pitch them later in the game. For example, we were playing Germantown Academy recently and one of their players hit a home run on an inside change-up early in the game. During his next two at-bats, I made sure not to call another change-up unless we were calling for it in the dirt. He did not get another hit.
Q: What was your vivid memory from the PAISAA state tournament last spring – can you share it with us?
A: My most vivid memory from the State Championship last year was the last pitch. My teammate Tyler Dunbar was on the mound in the eighth inning (our third extra-inning game in a row) trying to finish a complete game shutout. With a 3-2 count, Tyler hurled a fastball over the outside corner for a called strike three. I launched my glove into the stratosphere and was the second player to join in on the dog-pile behind our catcher James McConnon. The rest is history.
Q: You’ve played right field, first base and catcher for Haverford School. What is your favorite position, and why?
A: Each position has its perks. As I mentioned earlier, I enjoy catching because it keeps me laser focused and allows me to play a larger role in the game. I like right field and first base too, though. I miss making, or at least trying to make, diving catches in the outfield and throwing runners out at certain bases. As for first base, I miss scooping balls that are thrown low.
Q: You usually bat third or fourth in the Fords’ lineup. Does your batting approach change when you are moved up or down in the lineup order?
A: There isn’t too big of a difference between hitting in those two positions, so my approach does not change. My teammates do a great job of getting on base before me and my coaches put me in a good position to drive them in. I walk up to the plate and try and do what is best for our team.
Q: Tell us a little about your experience in the Carpenter Cup. What has been your most vivid memory of your Carpenter Cup experience?
A: The coolest thing about the Carpenter Cup is interacting with the other players on the team. Often times, we’ve played with or against each other for many years and therefore have at least elemental relationships with each other. Then, to combine all of us together, form an all-star team, play baseball, and expand our friendships makes the experience unique. Since I have played, we have not yet reached Citizens Bank Park which would undoubtedly be my most memorable experience. However, the preliminary rounds are still fun and hearing Dan Baker (the Phillies P.A. announcer) announce your name is pretty neat.
Q: What do you think is the strongest part of your game? What part of your game are you working on the most currently?
A: I think hitting is the strongest part of my game. Ironically, it is also the part I work on the most. Hitting is a technique driven exercise that must be refined every day.
Q: Who is your favorite baseball player, and why?
A: My favorite baseball player is Buster Posey because he’s not only an outstanding player, but he also plays the game the right way. He never takes plays off in the field. For example, if he hits a ground ball that will most likely be an out, whereas most players just jog down the line, Posey hustles for the small possibility that the fielder makes an error and he will be called safe.
Q: Who have been your biggest baseball mentors, and what was the most important thing each of them taught you?
A: My biggest baseball mentors have been my coaches and my dad. Throughout the years, my coaches have refined my skills and taught me that it is a privilege, not a right, to play this game every day. Their guidance has taught me to give it my all every time I’m on the field. Additionally, my dad has instilled in me a passion for improvement. Even when I think I have a good game, my dad always finds something that he thinks I can do better. He has taught me to never stop trying to get better, because the player I am now will never be good enough.
Q: What is your favorite baseball park, and why?
A: My favorite baseball park is Citizens Bank Park because I’ve been going there since I was a little kid to root for the Phillies.
Q: Tell us a little about your pre-game preparation the day of a game.
A: I don’t do anything in particular, I just try to keep it simple and stay loose.
Q: Last winter, you were assistant captain of Haverford School’s Independence League Championship ice hockey team. What is your most vivid memory of the season – can you share it with us? Do you plan to play ice hockey beyond high school?
A: My most vivid memory occurred when the [league championship final] buzzer ended and we all rushed to the student section. We started banging on the glass, hugging each other, and crying tears of joy. Since I’m playing baseball in college, I don’t know how much time I’ll have to play hockey. But after college, I can definitely see myself playing in a men’s league.
Q: You wear uniform jersey No. 10 for the Haverford School baseball team. Is there a reason you picked that number – does it have any significance to you?
A: I was lucky enough to get this number from an upperclassmen during my freshman year because the other jerseys were too big for me. After it was given to me, I began to like it and didn’t see a reason to change.
Q: Why did you choose Cornell? What other schools were in the running? What do you think you might like to major in at Cornell? Is there a particular career path that interests you at the present time?
A: I chose Cornell because the combination of academics and athletics is exceptional, the coaches are tremendous, and the campus is incredible. I was also considering Georgetown, Princeton, and Yale. I plan on majoring in either biology or something in business. As for a career path, I want to do something where I can help people. Whether that is becoming a doctor and saving lives or working in commercial real estate and generating jobs, I do not yet know.
Q: Do you participate in any other extracurricular activities at Haverford School other than baseball and ice hockey? What sparked your interest in these other activities?
A: I am chairman of the Character Mentorship Program, a member of the Signet Society, and a school tour-guide to name a few. These activities all have a common theme: helping others.
Fun facts – Bryan Hyland
Favorite TV show: Shark Tank.
Favorite movie: Blades of Glory.
Favorite team: Eagles, Flyers, Phillies and Sixers.
Favorite place to visit: “My Grandma’s house in Cape Cod.”
Favorite color: Red.
Family members: parents Bill and Vicki, older brother William, younger brother Chris.
(To be selected as Main Line Boys Athlete of the Week, a student-athlete must first be nominated by his coach.)