Baseball: Career winding down for Guerin staple Kelly
Guerin Prep's Tommy Kelly is nearing the end of hisbusy athletic career as the Gators's baseball team enters the postseason.| Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 2, 2012 8:58AM
Tommy Kelly, a staple of Guerin Prep athletics, is entering his final days as a Gator.
But the senior is hopeful he can help the baseball team delay that final day as long as possible.
Kelly played football, hockey — as part of the co-op team with Nazareth — and baseball for the Gators during the past four years. He was the football team’s quarterback the past couple of seasons — following his cousin, Dennis, and brother, John, in that same role — and was a center in hockey.
Kelly also is the baseball team’s shortstop. To say he likes to have his hand on the pulse of whatever game he’s playing is an understatement.
“I started playing baseball when I was about 6 or 7 years old,” Kelly said. “I got put (at shortstop) when I started, and I just stayed there and got used to playing there. (I like) being ready for the ball to come to you. I want it every play.”
Such eagerness, and a willingness to take on responsibility, makes Kelly a natural leader. And that isn’t lost on baseball head coach Dan Mustari.
“We’re a young team, and these kids look up to Tommy,” Mustari said. “When he isn’t there, they’re asking about him. In the past three weeks, every time there’s a pop-up hit in the infield, I yell for Tommy to catch it no matter what, and that’s kudos to him. These kids are good ballplayers. (Anthony and Michael) Marra, Nick Crawford, Andrew Rangel, they all feed off him. He’s our shortstop, captain, and our mainstay. Guerin was happy to have him for four years. He’s a great kid from a great family, and we want to find a really nice way for him to go out.”
Kelly carries responsibilities as the team’s No. 2 hitter, trying to get the leadoff man over for the rest of the lineup. Mustari trusts Kelly to bunt when needed, and take bad pitches while making sure to get a good swing on pitches he can hit. Kelly — a .384 hitter with 10 doubles, a triple and a home run this season — also is a model of consistency in the field, turning double plays with relative ease.
“I like helping everyone else on the team,” Kelly said. “I was comfortable with (being captain). It was the same for football. It’s nice because people come to you. It’s a cool experience. I tell them I make mistakes all the time, and not to worry about it and just get the next ball. Hitting wise, I’m usually the guy who bunts the No. 1 guy over for the No. 3 guy to get him in. Batting second isn’t the hardest job in the lineup.”
Successful playoff run or not, Kelly’s time at Guerin is running short, and with that realization comes a lot of memories that he will cherish in due time.
Kelly will be heading to the University of Wisconsin-Platteville to join his brother, John, as his understudy at quarterback during freshman year — and also possibly being his linemate on the hockey team.
“I’ve had an awesome experience playing all sports,” Kelly said. “I’ve made some awesome friends. It’s been like a family no matter what sport it is. Everyone is close, and everyone sticks together. I’ll miss the people, the teachers and coaches, for sure. It’s just a good bond with everyone.”