by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Brady Givens has played baseball since he was five years old, but this summer, his lifelong passion is sometimes more of a chore. That’s because the 2013 Elk River graduate is a working man now. He crawls out of bed at 5 a.m. to spend 8 to 10 hour days building garages in Minneapolis, earning college money.
“It’s draining,” acknowledged Givens, a two-time all-conference pick, about playing ball after working hard all day. “But it’s not too bad, I guess, unless it’s real hot.”
Givens said his main concession is limiting himself to two Legion games a week, but with 14 Legion games plus eighth for the town-team Pioneers, he’s still averaging about three a week.
“I love to play,” said Givens, who’ll attend St. Thomas and try out for baseball there.
All three teams he’s suited up for this year are glad to have him.
“Brady is a heckuva player,” said Skip Swanson, Legion coach and an Elk assistant. “He’s our closer. He has a curve that our guys call ‘wicked.’ He hits well. He’s a smart baserunner, and a versatile fielder.”
Elk coach Ryan Holmgren feels the 5-foot-10, 150-pound infielder and relief pitcher has intriguing potential.
“He’s just starting to scratch the surface,” said Holmgren. “What he’s done so far, he’s been using good natural ability. For instance, he’s got tremendous hands. But as he gains some strength and fine-tunes his game, I think he could be really good at the college level.”
Givens’ most high-profile role the last two years has been his emergence as a lockdown closer, although he’s also solid hitter and reliable gloveman in the infield and outfield.
“I enjoy that role, getting in there for an inning and throwing as hard as I can, trying to strike everyone out,” said Givens, who averaged almost two K’s per inning in two seasons with the Elks.
Givens set an Elk record with four saves as a junior. He had a couple bad outings, too, and finished 0-2 with a 4.34 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 9.7 innings. As a senior on a 15-5 team, Givens was almost untouchable, reeling off 11 shutout innings in nine appearances, walking seven but striking out 22. He posted four saves again, plus one victory.
“My favorite game was Osseo, when we were down 9-2 but came back and won, and they gave me the ball in extra innings,” said Givens, referring to a 10-9, eight-inning victory where he fanned five guys in two innings.
After playing winter ball his junior year with the Blizzard club team, traveling to warm-weather states, he broke into the Elk starting lineup with immediate impact. The slender infielder just rocked the ball, hitting .375 with two homers, 23 RBIs and 17 runs, leading the Elks (10-12) in run production. This spring, he slipped a bit at the plate, hitting .288 with six doubles, but earned another all-NWSC nod with his pitching.
This summer, in between building garages, he’s hitting .310 for the Legion and has three saves and a 1.90 ERA in 11 innings. As a sub with the Pioneers, he’s picked up a couple hits while closing three games. These photos were taken during a Pioneers game.
He packs a pretty good punch for his size, both on the mound and at the plate.
“Brady put out against Centennial last year,” said Swanson, “that went way out there and cleared the goal post on the football field.”
Grateful for the summer job, but not wanting to make a career of it, Givens plans to major in business or finance at St. Thomas.
THE GIVENS SCORECARD
Personal file — Age: 18 … Family: agents Bill and DeAnn; brothers Reilly and Colby; sister Annie … Sport: baseball … Other activities: bantam hockey coach … Academics: 3.2 GPA … College plans: St. Thomas, finance or business; baseball
Favorite stuff — Class: Team Sports, and Nets and Rackets … TV show: “That 70′s Show” … Music: ASAP Rocky …. Reading: Sports Illustrated … Food: Chipotle fare, especially chicken bowl … Drink: Mt. Dew … Team: Dodgers … Athlete: Jedeveon Clowney … Kickback activities: tennis, movies … Wants to visit: New Zealand