Getting his opportunity
Brady Burzynski was at a red light driving stick shift when his cell phone rang.
On the other end was Eau Claire Express Field Manager Dale Varsho. And while Burzynski was unable to really have a clean conversation given he was in the driver’s seat of a car, he heard all the words he needed.
Varsho had just offered to take the UW-Stout outfielder off of the temporary roster list and onto the full-time one.
Burzynski didn’t need much time to think, as he signed a contract later that night, drawing emotion out of the usually calm and collected lefty speedster.
“It’s a pretty good feeling, I was jacked for a good 30 minutes,” Burzynski said.
Burzynski’s been on the Eau Claire baseball scene for some time now, as the former Eau Claire Memorial product is no stranger to patrolling the Carson Park outfield.
Last season, Varsho signed him off the Eau Claire Cavaliers to a temporary con- tract at the end of the year in the midst of a playoff push.
And all he did was hit .382 with eight RBI to give the lineup a spark at the top and get the team within one game of win- ning the South Division’s Second Half title.
So when several roster pieces fell through on Varsho late this spring, it was Burzynski’s number called on to change the red ink of the roster to black.
“When there’s so much emphasis on Division I players in this league, you kind of second guess yourself,” Varsho said. “But he definitely deserves to be here full- time. He’s just a darn good player, and I’m just excited to have him here all summer.”
The Division III product knew he had a tall task when he would be facing pitchers from the likes of traditional NCAA power- houses like Florida, LSU and UCLA.
But he knew he didn’t have to try and do too much, as the slap hitter got on base frequently for Eau Claire last summer by doing what he does best.
“It was pretty exciting. I try to put the ball in play, I get a lot of infield hits and I was just playing my game and it actually worked out,” he said.
This season at Stout, he picked up right where he left off in the Northwoods League late last summer.
He was second on the Blue Devils with a .356 average with 27 RBI, even poking out three home runs in the process.
Burzynski said last summer taught him a lot and changed the way he looks at the game, including his goals, which would ultimately end at baseball’s highest stage.
“It helped me get a new look on col- lege athletics as kind of a preparation,” Burzynski said. “Obviously people get looks out of the Northwoods a lot, it’s a pro ball schedule, so that should be pretty much the goal for everyone in the Northwoods.”
And while it is a thrill for the hometown hero to playing for the team he grew up watching, he also knows there is work to be done on the diamond.
He has his sights set on a .300 average, he’d like to try and use that short porch to right field to drive some of his power numbers up and he’d like to make all of the plays and then some in the outfield.
And, he’d also like to try and help his team give Eau Claire something memorable like in 2010, something he was around to see.
“Growing up here, I always wanted to play for the Eau Claire Express,” Burzynski said. “We’d like to make the playoffs, hopefully get meshing near playoff time and make a run at things.”