Caught in a draft

South Brunswick native Bobby Korecky taken by Phils in 19th round

By: Brian Shappell
   Gas and toll money for your first drive home as a graduate of the University of Michigan: $65
   Buying pizza for buddies that helped you load up your car: $30
   Finding out halfway through your drive home that you’ve been selected on the first day of the Major League Baseball entry draft: priceless.
   South Brunswick native Bobby Korecky got that news last week as he was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 19th round on June 4. Korecky said the news that he was getting the chance to play professionally made the last four hours of the drive to his parents house in Dayton "a lot easier."
   "I really have no idea what’s going to happen — it’ll be a lot of fun though," Korecky said. "I just have to go out there and continue doing what I’m doing."
   Now Korecky is off to Tampa Bay, Fla. for a professional mini-camp for Phillies draft picks instead of getting ready to move back to Ann Arbor, Mich. for a job in financial consulting.
   "I like these plans a lot better," Korecky said. "I enjoy playing so much — it’s everyone’s dream to play professionally."
   The Korecky family moved from South Brunswick to Saline, Mich. 10 years ago but returned to the township shortly after the young pitcher started college at the University of Michigan in 1999.
   Korecky, who made a name for himself pitching in the state baseball playoffs while at Saline High School, made an impact with the Wolverines immediately earning the role of closer during his first season. He posted five saves that season in 23 appearances.
   Over the next three years, Korecky stepped into a stating role. After posting a 1-5 record as a reliever during his freshman campaign, Korecky went 16-13 over the next three years and earned All-Big 10 honors in each of the three seasons. He hurled complete games in 20 of his 35 career starts and appeared in 64 games, the sixth most appearances in Wolverine history.
   The 22-year old won the Geoff Zahn Award as Michigan’s Most Valuable Pitcher as a junior in 2001 and was named co-captain of the team for his senior season.
   When he wasn’t striking out batters, like on March 8 when he fanned a career-high 13 in a shutout win at Texas-San Antonio, Korecky played second base and designated hitter posting a .288 average for his senior season.
   Despite being one of the power conference’s most decorated players over the last four years, Korecky said he didn’t expect to be selected on the first day of the 50-plus round draft.
   "During the season I talked to the Phillies a little bit so I figured if I ever went it would be to the Phillies — but I really wasn’t expecting to go on the first day," he said.
   Korecky’s teammate, Rich Hill, a Boston native was drafted earlier during day one of the draft in the 4th round by the Chicago Cubs. The duo hopes to join the likes of Mike Matheny, Jim Abbott and Barry Larkin, as alums that have made it to a Major League Baseball roster. Since 1913, 52 Wolverines have made it to "the show."
   Korecky credits the supportive coaching from his father during his little league years and from high school coach Scott Theisen for his success thus far. He also praised his family cheering section which includes his mother Pam; his 18-year-old sister Jenna and 16-year-old sister Mia, a letter-winner this year in volleyball and softball at South Brunswick High School.
   "They have always traveled to see me play, even when they may not have wanted to," Korecky said. "They’ve been very supportive."
   Korecky admitted that the Phillies were not his favorite team as he grew up. That has obviously changed.
   "I really just always enjoyed watching a good game so much that I didn’t ever have a favorite team," said Korecky. "Right now, it’s the Phillies, though."