Bronson Arroyo to lead HHS homecoming parade
By TONY MARRERO firstname.lastname@example.org
Published: Oct 4, 2007BROOKSVILLE — A big-league ballplayer will return to his alma mater next week to help Hernando High School get hyped up for homecoming.
Bronson Arroyo, who graduated from Hernando in 1995 and now sports a World Series ring for his role as pitcher with the Boston Red Sox in 2004, will serve as grand marshal for his alma mater’s homecoming parade slate for 1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12, in downtown Brooksville.
“The kids are really excited,” said Tanya Goodwin, a teacher at Hernando High and the Student Government Association sponsor for the Homecoming Growl activities.
School officials approached Hernando’s cross-country coach Ernie Chapman and asked him to invite Arroyo. Chapman’s son-in-law, Addison Sullivan, who also played baseball for Hernando, is a longtime friend of Arroyo’s.
Arroyo, who now pitches for the Cincinnati Reds, couldn’t be reached for comment.
He has a house in Brooksville. His father, Gus, who cultivated his son’s talents, lives here too.
Arroyo was happy to do it, Sullivan said. He said the Key West native has always been “a down-to-earth guy.”
The 6-foot-5-inch, 30-year-old was the Reds’ sole All Star player last year and made the cover of the team’s 2007 media guide. In February, he signed a contract extension with the Reds through 2010 that will pay him $33 million.
“It’s weird for me, honestly, being a frontrunner as far as being promoted by the team,” Arroyo told MLB.com earlier this year. “I was sitting in the hotel room looking at my face on the media guide last night. In 2003, I was just fighting to get called up to the big leagues with the Red Sox.”
When he’s not playing ball, Arroyo is jamming on his guitar. He released a CD of rock-and-roll cover tunes called “Covering the Bases” in 2005.
Despite the newfound fame, “He always has time for his people in
Brooksville,” Sullivan said.
Chapman, who coached Arroyo during his freshman and sophomore years, said Arroyo took a “studious” approach to baseball and “had all the tools and makings of a professional player.”
“But then you have to go and do something with it, and he did,”
Chapman said. “He was very conscious of his desires and goals.”
Arroyo played shortstop during his first couple of years at Hernando. The right-hander would go on to pitch “exceptionally well” during his senior year, Chapman said, contributing to Hernando’s successful push to the regional tournament that year.
The Pittsburgh Pirates picked Arroyo in the third round of the 1995 amateur draft. He made his Major League debut with the Pirates in 2000, then was selected off waivers by the Red Sox in 2003.
The Sox traded him to the Reds just before the 2006 season — a season that would turn out to be a highlight of Arroyo’s career. He led the league in pitches and innings played, chalked up his first shutout and played in his first All-Star game.
Arroyo is a good example for students, Goodwin said.
“The kids can see it and say, ‘Hey, from a small town, we can do it,’” she said.