Ty Hall could have been enjoying the California sunshine next baseball season as a member of the junior college Yuba College 49ers.
But in the end, there were too many reasons for the 18 year old infielder to stay close to home.
The soon-to-be GW Graham grad has signed with the University of the Fraser Valley baseball team, which will allow him to stay right where he is in Ryder Lake.
As he makes the next level leap with the reigning Canadian Colleges Baseball Conference champion Cascades, he’ll have a support network that few, if any, of his other teammates have.
He’s got eight brothers (not a misprint, and no sisters either) in his corner. He’s got 24 cousins living in the area and an aunt and uncle living within a literal stone’s throw of his home.
“I’m the oldest boy in our house, and there’s never a dull moment, that’s for sure,” he said with a grin. “It’s something where my brothers are looking up to me and I’ve got to be there for them.
“But they’re always there for me, and there’s nothing my mom (Loreal) and dad (Jeremy) wouldn’t do for us.“
If family is the main reason Hall is sticking around, another reason is the massive 2,000-plus square foot training facility that sits on the Hall acreage, rivaling and arguably surpassing what UFV has to offer.
Whenever he’s home and feels like getting in some work, Hall can grab a bat and head into the cage to take pitches from a machine that can be set to serve up anything he likes.
“You can crank it up to probably 100 miles per hour and it gives you more of a realistic game feel, instead of just typical batting practice and soft toss,” said Hall, who, like just about everyone not named Mike Trout, has trouble catching up to 100 mile per hour offering but can get around on a 90-92 mph pitch. “It’ll hold 120 balls and it can feed you curves and sliders and cutters and whatever.”
There’s a fully-stocked weight room and half a basketball court with a Dr. Dish ball return system under the hoop that feeds Hall rebound after rebound as he practices his outside jumper from beyond the three point arc painted on the floor. The reps Hall got on that hoop helped him become a key player for the GW Graham senior boys hoops team last season.
The walls of the building are high enough to accommodate a planned-but-not-yet started rock climbing course, and there’s a man cave in progress with a pool table, ping-pong table and kitchen.
“We started planning it five years ago and started building it two years ago and it kind of got away from us with the size of it,” Jeremy said with a laugh. “We wanted to make a fun area for the kids to bring their friends and teams to train or just hang out and Ty’s uncle Josh, who’s a building contractor, helped make it happen.”
You can have the nicest training facility ever and it won’t matter if you don’t use it.
That’s where Hall’s work ethic comes in.
As a ballplayer, he describes himself as a grinder and he’s taken that approach to every practice and game with his current team, the Chilliwack Minor Baseball college prep Cougars.
“Baseball’s a bit different than basketball in the sense that you have to put more work in outside of it,” Hall explained. “You can’t be on the field all the time, so you have to be dedicated enough to do it on your own during the winter.
“You put in all the hard work and all the little things just add up and it’s definitely been a blessing to have access to a facility like this in my own home.
“Outside in Chilliwack it’s not always nice, and I’ve had the option to come here and do more than most kids can.”
Ty has been playing since he was four years old.
He was part of back-to-back provincial championships with the college prep Cougars and they’re tracking well to maybe win another title this summer.
He mostly plays shortstop, and has played second and third base in recent years.
His coach calls him a dirtbag, which doesn’t sound the least bit flattering until you know the context.
“A dirtbag is a guy who’s always willing to put his body on the line and lay out to make a play,” Hall explained. “And I’d describe myself as that, hard working and passionate about the game.”
Hall’s calling card is his defence.
He’s got range.
He’s got a strong arm and he’s got the instincts to be in the right place at the right time.
“Shortstop is the captain of the infield and I take pride in that,” he said.
The teenager’s bat is a promising work in progress.
He’s not a power guy, more a ‘wear out the pitcher and get on base in any way possible’ sort.
He’ll be in a fierce battle for reps on a UFV team that carried 32 players last season.
“I just want to go out and be who I am, and not change who I am to get on the field more,” he said. “I’m going to play hard and do everything I can, but at the end of the day it’s what the team needs to win. If I have to wait a year to get out there, that’s what it’s going to be.
“But I’m going to go out there and do my best, and if I do that I believe I can do something special.”