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Northampton Cal Ripken Baseball alum Erik Ostberg shares experiences with players at banquet

  • Florence native Erik Ostberg, left, who was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday, tears up as he speaks to Northampton Cal Ripken Baseball players Friday at the Maines Field pavilion in Florence. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Northampton Cal Ripken Baseball coach Brad McGrath is presented with a Tampa Bay Rays tee-shirt June 16, 2017 in honor of Florence native Erik Ostberg, who was drafted by the Rays on Wednesday. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Florence native Erik Ostberg, left, who was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday, looks out to a crowd of Northampton Cal Ripken Baseball players June 16, 2017 while Cal Ripken coach Brad McGrath speaks at the Maines Field pavilion in Florence. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Florence native Erik Ostberg, center, who was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday, speaks to Northampton Cal Ripken Baseball players wearing shirts with his name Friday at the Maines Field pavilion in Florence. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Liam O’Connor, 8, left, and Jack Sherman, 10, both Northampton Cal Ripken Baseball players, listen as Florence native Erik Ostberg speaks Friday. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Florence native Erik Ostberg, left, who was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday, hugs Northampton Cal Ripken Baseball coach Brad McGrath June 16, 2017 at the Maines Field pavilion in Florence. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Florence native Erik Ostberg, who was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday, speaks to Northampton Cal Ripken Baseball players June 16, 2017 at the Maines Field pavilion in Florence. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Florence native Erik Ostberg, left, who was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday, helps hand out Northampton Cal Ripken Baseball awards, including a Ripken Way award to Colin Hogan, 9, of the Goggins Real Estate team Friday. Visit gazettenet.com for more photos. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Northampton Cal Ripken Baseball coach David Sullivan, left, presents David Shycon, 12, of the R.K. Miles team with a Ripken Way award June 16, 2017 at the Maines Field pavilion in Florence. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Florence native Erik Ostberg, who was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday, speaks to Northampton Cal Ripken Baseball players June 16, 2017 at the Maines Field pavilion in Florence. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY



@Hargraves24
Saturday, June 17, 2017

NORTHAMPTON — Over 40 children with family and coaches gathered for a Northampton Cal Ripken Baseball banquet, Friday at a rainy Maines Field.

There was one oddity — every single young ballplayer was wearing a Tampa Bay Rays shirt.

No Dustin Pedroia, Mookie Betts or Chris Sale. It was not a regular look for Boston Red Sox country. The name on the back was Ostberg.

Florence native Erik Ostberg, who was drafted Wednesday by Tampa Bay in the 2017 MLB draft, was a special guest at the banquet.

When Ostberg began his address to the eager young ballplayers, he got emotional.

“That was the first time I cried since getting drafted,” Ostberg said. “We are in a Red Sox area obviously. Seeing all these jerseys with my name on it. These kids will keep that shirt and years from now it will be in their drawer.”

Ostberg played in the Cal Ripken league that his father, Rob, established 12 years ago.

Erik Ostberg stressed outworking other players and simply getting better everyday.

“You really cannot succeed in baseball without relentlessly working,” Ostberg said. “It’s so easy to put the bat down and put it off until tomorrow.”

Tampa Bay selected Ostberg in the 13th round with the 379th overall pick. When he played in the Cal Ripken league, he thought about playing professional baseball.

“It’s hard to describe,” Ostberg said. “I did envision it. I am not sure it will sink in until I get down there.”

Ostberg signed countless autographs and took pictures with players and family members at the banquet.

Coaches recognized each player on each team, while one player received the Ripken Way Award for their accomplishments during the season.

Among the players under the pavilion at Maines Field was James Elliott, 11.

“It was kind of special,” Elliott said. “I have gotten autographs but never met any MLB players.”

Quinn McDonald, 12, fed off of Ostberg’s positive message.

“He’s made such a big impact on his community,” McDonald said. “He’s helping younger kids build their confidence to get to that next level. Just as he did.”

McDonald, like Ostberg, has visions of playing professionally.

“I really like baseball,” McDonald said. “He gives me confidence that I can make it.”

Brianna Heafey, 10, enjoyed seeing a local player get drafted.

“It was exciting,” Heafey said. “I didn’t think that someone from little old western Mass. could make it. Anything can happen.”

Riley McDonald, 10, referenced Ostberg’s knee injury that sidelined him when he was leading the nation in hitting for the University of Hartford this season.

“He kept training,” Riley McDonald said. “He just kept going and didn’t quit.”

Some players said they will adjust how they practice after listening to Ostberg.

Kash Kelly, 10, said he plans on simply practicing more. Jack Sherman, 10, hopes to identify and improve his weaknesses in practice.

“Definitely work on things I am not that strong on,” Sherman said.