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Snow hits the road again

By DAVID MURPHY
Published May 2, 2007


The drive from Brooksville to Shreveport, La., covers close to 1, 000 miles and 12 hours of driving, not to mention an obscene amount of gasoline in a Hummer H2.

Yet on Friday, that's exactly what Bert Snow was doing.

"It's what I love, " the former Hernando star said.

Once again, Snow will take a summer job as a player for the Shreveport Sports of the American Association of Independent Baseball, just as he has the past two years.

It isn't the big leagues - the stadium is aging and the pay is a tenth of what those in the MLB make - but it is baseball. And for Snow, that will always be enough.

Last year, the 30-year-old right-hander was the Sports' top pitcher, going 9-3 with a 3.13 ERA in 18 starts. He struck out 86 and walked 55 in 1091/3 innings pitched. Opponents hit just .243 against him.

In his final game, Snow pitched all nine innings, striking out 10 in a 7-4 playoff win.

It was a dramatically different role than he had Thursday night as he stood in right-center at Hernando High after the Leopards' 10-0 loss to Pasco in the Class 4A, District 8 semifinals.

All season, Snow has helped best friend Donnie Whitehead coach Hernando. He has tutored the Leopard pitchers, taught them how to play, imparted some of the tradition of the program.

"You can't describe the benefit of having a guy with Bert's experience around, " said Whitehead, who just finished his first season as coach.

Snow's story is well-known. After starring at Hernando and Vanderbilt, he was a 10th-round draft pick of the Oakland Athletics in 1998.

Snow quickly rose through the minor leagues, reaching Triple A late in 2000. But Tommy John surgery sidelined him for the 2001 season and stunted his rise to the majors.

Now he has just turned 30, and life after baseball is on the horizon. Snow said he contemplated walking away from Shreveport, but decided to return as a player/coach.

In addition to being the Sports' No. 1 starter, he'll tutor the team's younger pitchers.

"I've still got that player mentality, " Snow said. "Last year, I was the guy who had the ball in the playoffs. There are times when I just want to do it myself."

Fortunately for him, he still can.

OTHER ALUMNI: Former Hernando slugger Dee Brown is off to a blazing start with the Potomac Nationals High Class A/Washington. Brown leads the 12-9 Nationals in hitting with a .358 average. He also is the team's leader in runs scored (16) and is second in doubles (seven). ...Patrick Ryan again is one of the top relievers for the Milwaukee Brewers' low-Class A affiliate. The former Central star is 2-0 with a 1.98 ERA in seven appearances for the West Virginia Power. He has struck out 13 and walked six in 132/3 innings.

David Murphy can be reached at dmurphy@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1407.