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Thread: Article on Jay Bruce from his hometown paper

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    Article on Jay Bruce from his hometown paper

    Reds like Bruce's impact on field, in clubhouse
    July, 28, 2008

    HOUSTON - Sure-to-be Hall of Fame baseball player Ken Griffey Jr. has heard the story enough times to have a snappy reply.

    Reminded that Beaumont-born Jay Bruce once tried to call Griffey at the Seattle Kingdome when he played for the Mariners, Griffey said "he doesn't have to do that anymore. He can call me anytime."

    Now teammates with the Cincinnati Reds, Bruce no longer looks to Griffey as an idol he tried to get on the phone. And the Reds look to Bruce as a humble and eager rookie willing to do what is necessary to succeed in the major leagues.

    "We like having him around," said Griffey, in his 20th major league season and ninth with the Reds. "He comes to the ballpark and works hard. He's learning on the job. He doesn't know everybody here, so I help him as much as I can. He's well prepared day in and day out, so I don't have to worry about that."

    Bruce committed a throwing error from center field in the first inning but singled and scored on a grand slam by Adam Dunn in the third inning of the Reds' 5-4 loss Monday against the Astros at Minute Maid Park. All told, he was 1-for-4.

    The game was Bruce's first in the major league ballpark closest to his home town.

    "Every day you play, you want to get a win," said Bruce, batting .264 with seven home runs and 24 RBIs in 55 games this season. "But it was good to come back and see family and friends and everything like that."

    Bruce, who played his first major league game May 27, is expected to be in the starting lineup tonight when the Reds face Astros pitcher Brian Moehler. Bruce has never faced Moehler.

    Before Monday's game, Bruce conducted a media interview that included five television cameras and about a dozen microphones. The attention, although, something Bruce continues to get used to, is something he appears to handle well.

    Bruce said he put aside more than 70 tickets for family members and friends, many of whom sat in a section behind the Reds' third-base side dugout.

    Bruce faced Roy Oswalt in his first three at-bats. He flied out to lead off the top of the first and reached on an infield single when a grounder bounced off the glove of a diving Lance Berkman near first base with one out in the third. He also flied out to end the fourth.

    In the seventh, Bruce grounded out to second baseman Kazuo Matsui on the first pitch he saw from Geoff Geary to end the inning.

    Dunn, a Texas native and Reds outfielder, said Bruce is mature beyond his 21 years of age.

    "Me and him are so much different," said Dunn, himself a 21-year-old when he played his first major league game in 2001. "They had to watch me off the field. All he does is play video games."

    Joey Votto, who like Bruce played a homecoming series when the Reds played in his native town of Toronto on June 24-26, has played with Bruce in the minor and major leagues.

    "I think Jay has a good head on his shoulders," Votto said. "He's a guy who's coming here to work. He's not coming here to play and hang out with buddies and fool around and stuff. He's here to help the Cincinnati Reds win baseball games."

    I miss Adam Dunn.

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  3. #2
    RaisorZone Raisor's Avatar
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    Re: Article on Jay Bruce from his hometown paper

    Quote Originally Posted by OnBaseMachine View Post
    . All he does is play video games."
    Run him out of town!!!!
    "But I do know Joey's sister indirectly (or foster sister) and I have heard stories of Joey being into shopping, designer wear, fancy coffees, and pedicures."

  4. #3
    Playoffs Cyclone792's Avatar
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    Re: Article on Jay Bruce from his hometown paper

    "Me and him are so much different," said Dunn, himself a 21-year-old when he played his first major league game in 2001. "They had to watch me off the field. All he does is play video games."
    So how long until we hear that Bruce's struggles and strikeouts are because he plays video games all the time?
    Kevin Gregg and Jason Marquis will bring back memories of the Lost Decade.

    Kevin Gregg: DFA'd May 11, 2015
    Jason Marquis: Hopefully not far behind

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    Re: Article on Jay Bruce from his hometown paper

    Night at ballpark special for Jay Bruce, former West Brook teammate
    July, 28, 2008

    HOUSTON - David Murphy already had planned to attend Monday's Houston Astros game to see his longtime friend, Jay Bruce, play for the Cincinnati Reds at Minute Maid Park.

    Then he got a chance to stand on the field during a ceremonial pregame pitch thrown by ZoAnn Dreyer, a Houston oncologist in the process of treating Murphy's leukemia.

    That turned an already special night into an unforgettable one for a 19-year-old who has been declared cancer-free.

    "This worked out perfectly," said Murphy, the beneficiary of a winter fundraiser partially organized by Bruce that helped pay for his medical expenses. "It's great to see him play here, and then to be on the field, it couldn't be better."

    Murphy, his parents and older brother were among more than an estimated 70 Bruce supporters on hand for the first major league game the Beaumont-born Bruce played in the ballpark closest to his home town.

    Dreyer threw the first pitch as part of a "Houston's Hometown Heroes" promotion put on by the Astros. She said co-workers at the Texas Children's Hospital in Houston nominated her for the honor, and she immediately thought of Murphy when she found out about it.

    "That he gets to be here in front of all of Beaumont is wonderful," Dreyer said before she delivered the pitch.

    Murphy said he already had purchased tickets to the game when Dreyer invited him to stand on the field, and he jumped at the chance.

    Murphy and Bruce had played with and against each other since they were in Little League. They went on to play two seasons together at West Brook High School.

    Bruce, 21, graduated from West Brook in 2005, when the Reds picked him 12th overall in the baseball draft. Murphy graduated in 2007 and had been looking forward to his freshman season on the University of Houston baseball team when diagnosed with leukemia last September.

    To help the Murphy family pay for medical costs, Bruce helped organize a baseball camp whose proceeds went to the Murphy family.

    One of Murphy's West Brook classmates, Dakota Balfanz, and the father of another classmate, Rene Serna, also helped set up the camp that included major league players Jason Tyner and Clay Buchholz, among others.

    The camp raised about $30,000, said Murphy's mother, Ellen. She said the money has been put into an account overseen by a third party to prevent violating NCAA rules regarding special benefits to student-athletes.

    "This has been a rough year, but there have been a lot of blessings," Ellen Murphy said as she stood next to her husband, Mike, about an hour before Monday's game.

    David Murphy wore his red University of Houston jersey with a white No. 26 on the back. Murphy said he is in what's called the "maintenance" phase of his recovery. He has about 2¬Ĺ years of monthly chemotherapy treatments remaining.

    He also is on track to play next season for Houston.

    "He's always had the determination to get back to playing baseball," Ellen Murphy said.

    The Murphys were among dozens of Bruce fans seated in a section behind the Reds' third-base dugout. Bruce was greeted with a smattering of cheers when he stepped out of the dugout before batting practice, and he signed several autographs for hometown fans before the game.

    Among those was one for Murphy, as much of a hometown hero as the major leaguer on the field.

    "I'm glad he's doing well," said Bruce, who wears a thin red wristband with Murphy's name and uniform number on it as a reminder of his friend's battle.

    "That's a different kind of strong right there. It takes a really different kind of person and a different kind of family to go through something and keep their heads up and stay positive. I really commend him for that."

    I miss Adam Dunn.

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    Re: Article on Jay Bruce from his hometown paper

    Regular Jay: 'Laid back' Bruce set to make Houston debut with Reds
    July, 26, 2008

    Friends call him a T-shirt-and-jeans kind of guy. His mother says he prefers the local burger joint over a five-star menu.

    Even as a 21-year-old rookie outfielder with the Cincinnati Reds, Jay Bruce is the same as always - a regular Jay, if you will.

    He's the kind of guy who takes a ribbing from teammates - like the time they tricked him into arriving at the ballpark four hours before everyone else - and then laughs about it.

    "Anything I can do that lightens the mood of other people is fine with me," Bruce said by phone Saturday.

    And through it all, nothing changes.

    "He's probably the normalist, laid back guy I know," said longtime friend Dakota Balfanz, one of about 65 fans expected to support Bruce when he plays in the ballpark closest to his home town for the first time Monday. "His head definitely hasn't gotten bigger."

    To many, everything but Bruce's big-league bank account is the same as it was when he grew up in Beaumont.

    The way he tugs his sleeves and flaps his arms before each at-bat is as familiar now as it was when he was a West Brook High School baseball player.

    His giving nature, evidenced when he gave a sister the only $50 he had when he was in high school to help with her tuition, is still the same.

    His smile - like the one he flashed during his first major league game as he stood next to childhood idol and new teammate Ken Griffey Jr. - is one family and friends hope never goes away.

    "You could always see the love for the game he has," said Rene Serna, whose oldest son, Michael, played baseball with Bruce in Little League and at West Brook. "When we look at him now, we notice how he carries himself and how he's still carrying that big smile."

    Bruce will have many reasons to smile this week when he unites with several family members and friends who watch him play at Houston's Minute Maid Park, home of the Astros. Bruce and the Reds will play a three-game series that ends Wednesday.

    His mother and two sisters will wear red T-shirts that read, "Bruce Almighty," a nickname given to him during his three-plus seasons in the minor leagues.

    "This is definitely something I've been looking forward to," Jay Bruce said. "To get a chance to play in Houston, so close to my home town, is something a lot of guys don't get to do."

    Several fans are sure to chant, "BRUUUUUUCE," much like many of the 17,964 fans at the Cincinnati Reds' home ballpark did May 27 when he played his first major league game.

    Bruce arrived in the major leagues as a heralded prospect after Baseball America magazine named him the 2007 minor league player of the year. He led his minor league in hitting when promoted to Cincinnati.

    Bruce ended his first major league game with three hits, two walks, two runs and two runs batted in. With a walk the next day, Bruce became the first player in 31 years to reach base in his first six plate appearances.

    After the week, he had 15 hits in 26 at-bats, six walks, three doubles and one of his three home runs was the game-winner in the bottom of the 10th inning May 31.

    For a while, Bruce made hitting in the major leagues look as easy as spiking a beach ball.

    "It was a blast to come to the big leagues and make a big impact like I did," Bruce said. "That gave me a big amount of confidence to build on moving forward."

    One day before the winning home run, he collected four hits in a game. His first two-homer game came July 2. Somewhere in between came his first full-length Sports Illustrated feature headlined, "There's a New Kid in Town."

    New Kid, indeed.

    Dented can

    Long before Bruce became The New Kid, a dented beer can gave his father, Joe, the first hint that his son - then still in diapers - might be something special.

    Joe Bruce held the can in one hand and tossed a whiffle ball toward his plastic bat-wielding son, who smacked a line drive toward his father's face.

    "That was the first pitch I ever threw to him," said the elder Bruce, who instinctively protected himself by raising both hands, including the one with the can.

    With that hit, the younger Bruce dented the can like he would to so many outfield fences in coming years.

    During his Little League years is when he wore No. 24, which Griffey Jr. wore during his 11 seasons with the Seattle Mariners.

    Perhaps the story most often told by Bruce's parents is about the time he called the Mariners' home stadium with hopes of talking with the star outfielder.

    Bruce has since gone from idolizing Griffey Jr. to being his teammate, a peer.

    "What's cool about the whole thing is I've gotten to know him as a person," Bruce said. "I've really enjoyed it.

    "He's a normal person and a good guy. He's funny. He likes to joke around but knows when to be serious."

    Bruce wore Griffey Jr.'s old number until high school, when then-West Brook coach Kevin McDonald gave Bruce No. 32, the number with which Bruce has become associated.

    While at West Brook, Bruce's pitches topped out at 94 mph when he didn't play at first base or in the outfield. He earned first-team all-district honors all four years there.

    Bruce's high school home runs became legendary. No home run story has been retold by current West Brook coach Jacob Walton more than a 500-foot blast at Victoria.

    "That's the farthest hit I've ever seen from a high school player," Walton said of a home run that cleared the outfield fence and another fence about 50 feet farther and landed in the middle of another field.

    Bruce played summer travel ball for a team coached by former major league pitcher Doug Drabek. On that team, Bruce befriended Koby Clemens and took batting practice swings against Clemens' father, someone named Roger.

    Bruce's play impressed opponents enough for Humble baseball coach David Sitton to invite him to a showcase tournament in Oklahoma, where dozens of professional baseball scouts watched him hit close to a dozen home runs during a week of games.

    "That was the turning point," said Joe Bruce, who said scouts, agents and financial advisors began to call and knock on the family's front door.

    The following spring, Bruce's mother accompanied him on trips to Baltimore's Camden Yards, where Bruce smacked a batting practice home run off an eight-story warehouse beyond the right field fence, and Washington D.C.'s R.F.K. Stadium, where he wowed scouts with his bat speed and cannon arm.

    He found himself in a baseball swirl of scouts, agents and anyone else who wanted a part of the next big thing.

    "His senior year started, and, oh, my gosh, there was always tons of people at games, scouts calling on the phone," Martha Bruce said. "It got really crazy. I didn't have anything to compare it to, but, my gosh, there were times I wanted to rip the phone out of the wall."

    'Like a home run'

    The proudest moment Jay Bruce had on the day of his first major league game came hours before his first plate appearance.

    He invited several family members and friends to Cincinnati, but the sight of his 26-year-old sister, Kellan, made him happiest.

    Kellan Bruce has been mentally disabled since birth, when she experienced oxygen deprivation because her umbilical cord had been wrapped twice around her neck.

    "When they were younger, they just fought like dogs," said Martha Bruce, who shares an apartment with Kellan. "Now that they've gotten older, I think Jay really appreciates the things that he's been blessed with. Kellan has helped him to be grounded and to really enjoy the small things."

    Once Bruce reached high school, the siblings stopped fighting and Bruce began to bring along his sister when hanging out with friends.

    "She pretty much calls him all the time, and they talk," said longtime friend Michael Serna. "She always wants to go shopping with him, and he takes her. Kellan always goes riding around with us."

    Kellan had never ridden a plane before she joined her mother and older sister, 31-year-old Amy Gore, on a flight to Cincinnati for Bruce's first major league game.

    "She was scared to death," said Gore, a Port Neches resident who lives with her husband and three children. "That was her first time on an airplane and second time on an escalator. For her to do all that was like hitting a home run. He was so proud of her, that she was able to do all that."

    Jay Bruce said his mother had to persuade Kellan to fly to Cincinnati.

    "She's a very simple person, and I really admire that about her," he said. "Some people get caught up in having this or having that, and she just loves to ride a bike or play music. I think that's really impressive."

    Kellan Bruce said she is proud of her brother.

    "I love my brother," she said. "He is awesome."

    What if‚€¶?

    Without baseball, there's no telling what Jay Bruce would do today. He might be in college. Perhaps Tulane University, where he had a baseball scholarship if the Reds didn't offer enough money.

    He certainly didn't want to be saddled with a job.

    While in high school, Bruce briefly worked as a waiter and sold clothes in a mall, but "he would have none of that," Joe Bruce said.

    "I was a plumber, and I took him with me a couple times," the elder Bruce added. "I could tell him, 'Jay, this is what you're going to do if you don't get an education. Go on and get that shovel.'

    "Nah, that wasn't for him. I knew it. He wasn't going to be a worker. I didn't even like him cutting my grass, and if he did, he wore safety glasses or he didn't cut it."

    Bruce also tried picking grapes at a local berry farm, but that didn't work either.

    "'We ate half of them, and by the time we brought the buckets back, we made $4 all day,'" the elder Bruce said his son told him.

    But a job - the 9-to-5 kind that has nothing to do with baseball - came dangerously close to the younger Bruce's reality when a woodshop accident in school nearly cost him the pinkie finger on his right hand, the bottom hand when a left-hander holds a bat.

    Without that finger, leverage with a baseball bat is lost.

    "The doctor asked, 'Have you ever tried to grab a bat without your little finger?'" Martha Bruce recalled. "I had never thought about it, but you can't. You can't grip it that well. It was kind of scary."

    Bruce endured two surgeries to reattach nerves in his finger and a few months of hand therapy, all between his high school sophomore and junior baseball seasons.

    Clearly, the injury did nothing to stop Bruce in his path to the major leagues. But what would he be if not a professional baseball player?

    "He'd be a businessman," Michael Serna said. "He knows how to take care of people. He always takes care of his friends before he takes care of himself."

    Bruce did just that when he and Balfanz organized a baseball camp to raise money for former West Brook teammate David Murphy, a University of Houston baseball player diagnosed with Leukemia.

    "Honestly, on the field and off the field - in life, period - I try to treat people like I want to be treated," Bruce said.

    No matter how successful, family and friends believe Bruce will always be himself. Helping others while wearing a T-shirt and jeans and eating at the local burger joint.

    "He's just Jay," Martha Bruce said. "That's the best way you can put it."

    I miss Adam Dunn.

  7. #6
    No half measures, Walter RedEye's Avatar
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    Re: Article on Jay Bruce from his hometown paper

    Quote Originally Posted by Raisor View Post
    Run him out of town!!!!
    Take his recliner away!
    "Iíll kind of have a foot on the back of my own butt. Thatís just how I do things.Ē -- Bryan Price, 10/22/2013

  8. #7
    The Lineups stink. KronoRed's Avatar
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    West N. Carolina

    Re: Article on Jay Bruce from his hometown paper

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclone792 View Post
    So how long until we hear that Bruce's struggles and strikeouts are because he plays video games all the time?
    He should run out to CF and do cartwheels, then break a bat over his knee, that would should he cares
    Go Gators!

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