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Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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He's working hard for baseball dream
By Nancy Morgan, Times Sports Correspondent
Published February 10, 2008
Lucky for Tim Bascom Dunedin/UCF his dad didn't listen to him when at 5 years old he asked not to play organized baseball.
For the past 18 years, baseball is about all Bascom has played, except for basketball until he was about 12.
Bascom will soon report to Baltimore Orioles spring training for his second stint with the major-league organization. Last season, after being drafted in the fourth round, the right-hander reached the Advanced A division.
"I started playing baseball at about 5 but probably had a ball in my hand at an even younger age," said Bascom, 23. "One of my first memories is trying to convince my dad not to sign me up for T-ball. Glad that didn't work."
Bascom played T-ball for Dunedin National Little League and went on to play shortstop and pitch until his junior year at Dunedin High, when he concentrated more on pitching. In high school, Bascom was known for his ability to pitch to his spots.
"As I got stronger, my velocity increased," Bascom said. "My strength was always being able to hit spots, and all else works off accuracy. In high school, pitching two no-hitters were special memories for me. When I had a chance to go to a Division I school to pitch, I chose UCF.
"After my junior year at Dunedin, I wasn't sure I could play at that level and had no expectations the first year, but I wanted to see if I was of the caliber of the other guys. Once I knew I could compete, I had a good freshman year."
Actually, Bascom had a stellar first year with the Knights, leading the pitching corps in appearances and earning a 4-3 record with a 4.88 ERA on 22 strikeouts and 17 walks. Bascom's sophomore season was even better. He posted a 10-2 record with a 3.10 ERA and had a team-leading 113 strikeouts.
Bascom suffered a knee injury during the fall season of his junior year. He played through the pain and was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the sixth round. But when an MRI indicated a torn ACL, the situation changed.
It was then that Bascom's dream of playing professional baseball seemed to grow dim. Not only was he offered less from the Padres, but the NCAA ruled him ineligible to return to UCF to play his final season.
"That was a tough time, for sure," said Bascom, who had surgery in July 2006 but was ready in four months. "I went back to the pitching coach I had used since high school, Tony Ferreira, and he really jump-started my career.
"Then, special thanks to my dad, we began to advertise me to the pros. In a way, it was kind of fun, although it was a lot of hard work. But it's paying off."
When Bascom was assigned to the full-season division as opposed to the more normal short season for most rookies, he was keen on proving his worth. In his first appearance with the Orioles' A team, Delmarva Shorebirds, in June 2007, Bascom hurled a perfect five innings while striking out nine.
"It was nerve-racking, but I was so glad to get out there and pitch again," Bascom said.
Bascom's favorite pitch is the fastball, and he has consistently reached 92-95 mph. His changeup has been his most effective pitch, he said.
More baseball: Chris Heintz (Countryside/USF) signed a minor-league contract with Baltimore and was invited to spring training. In three seasons with Minnesota, the 33-year-old catcher averaged .232 hitting.
- Infielder Kyle Albright (Seminole/Pasco-Hernando CC) is averaging .267 in four games for Embry Riddle. Against Tennessee Wesleyan, the senior connected for two hits and two RBIs in a 5-1 win.
- Senior Casey Allen (Gibbs) walked and scored the only run for Savannah College of Art and Design against Florida College.
- Sophomore Ryan Luker(St. Petersburg/Clearwater) was 3-for-4 with three RBIs in Rollins' first victory, 9-3 over West Florida.
Swimming: Tampa sophomore Jessie Bardin (Northeast) followed up on a 200-meter freestyle win against Indian River CC with a first-place finish in the 1,000 free against Darton College.
Track: Texas Christian sophomore Neidra Covington (Boca Ciega) had an NCAA provisional mark in the triple jump with a distance of 41 feet, 8.75 inches at this month's invitational meet in Kentucky. And Covington placed fourth in the long jump.
Basketball: Chelsea Patterson (Seminole) scored 12 in West Florida's first conference win, 70-62 over Montevallo. The freshman guard averages 12.5 points.
Football: Senior Greg Climan (Dunedin) had the third-most tackles (52) for Quincy and was named to the second-team All-Midwest. The defensive lineman averaged 3.5 sacks.
- Ryan Bronson (Countryside) is a defensive lineman for Quincy and recorded 11 tackles.
- Junior wideout Mike James (Countryside) averaged 7 yards rushing and 38.9 receiving for Quincy.
Soccer: Bucknell sophomore centerfielder Chelsea Brinkman (Palm Harbor University) posted a 3.91 grade point average and was named to the dean's list for the third straight semester. Younger sister Kelly (PHU), a freshman centerfielder at East Tennessee State, was named to the dean's list as well.
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