Not a lot of people would expect anybody to be playing catch on a cold winter day in Dedham, let alone in the parking lot behind a Stop & Shop. But for Boston Latin pitcher Patrick “Packy” Naughton and his father Michael, it is a place of solitude.
The 300-foot long toss in 35-degree weather is nothing new for the father and son; they do it almost every day in the winter. The parking lot just happens to be best open space with the least amount of gathered snow.
According to Patrick, it is this kind of dedication which opened up the opportunity for him to commit verbally to the Virginia Tech baseball team in just his junior year of high school.
“Everyday at the field, he’s always there making sure I play proper catch and everything and he paid a lot of money for my pitching coach and he’s pretty much the reason I’m committed to Virginia Tech right now,” Naughton said of his father.
For Michael Naughton, all of the sacrifices are worth it, whether it’s hiring former St. Louis Cardinals pitching coach Ace Adams or helping out Patrick himself.
“I’m part of it but when I step back I feel how fast everything has moved over the years. I can see him yesterday throwing the ball when he was 4-years-old to me and now we’re talking about college,” Michael Naughton said.
It was at that time, when Patrick Naughton was just 4-years-old, that his father realized he was going to be baseball player. At that early age Naughton could catch the ball properly with two hands and didn’t need his father to throw to him underhand like his peers.
The young pitcher couldn’t stay away from the diamond, even if it was shagging balls or throwing batting practice for his older brother Jake.
“Jake would be six and “Packy” would be four and he wanted to do everything his brother did,” Michael Naughton said. “Playing out in the backyard with Jake, he’d be right next to him, so we’d have to do a three-way catch.”
When his older brother graduated from the Latin school last year to attend Fairfield University, Naughton took over as captain of Latin.
In his sophomore campaign, he was a Dual County League all star with a 1.47 ERA with 73 strikeouts and 13 walks. The great performance on the mound led to a 6-0 undefeated record.
The junior has followed up last season well thus far with 2-0 record. In his most recent win against Concord-Carlisle, Naughton threw 18 strikeouts, his second time doing so in his career, while giving up just two hits and two walks over 7 innings.
The accomplishments would already make a worthy resume for colleges, especially considering Patrick was also a member of the 2008 Parkway National Little League that played in the New England championship against New Hampshire. Had they won that game, the Latin player would’ve pitched in a Little League World Series game in Williamsport, Pa.
“We won the state tournament out in Worcester and we just went there and we had a ball, it was so much fun. My whole team was great and I remember every minute of it,” Naughton said.
Whether it is pitching for Parkway, Latin, practice with Ace Adams, or just one-on-one time with his father, Naughton said that the baseball mound is where he feels most comfortable.
However, even though he has already verbally committed, the junior knows that a starting position is never safe.
“I am trying not to be as complacent as I can because I know once I start being complacent then the other kids that are right below me, they’ll start to work harder than me and they’ll pass me,” he said. “That’s one of my biggest motivations that I want to be the best that I can be.”
Even if his fastball and changeup may be more advanced, Patrick knows that he still has room to improve and has set goals to do it.
“I want to have a perfect season,” Naughton said. “I want to win eight games or however many I start and I want to throw a no-hitter and a perfect game. Those are my goals for this year so hopefully they come through.”
His confidence and hard work has won the confidence of his coach, too.
“He knows he has a job to do and that’s to lead our team to, with [much] luck, the first DCL title in awhile,” Rene Gauthier said.
Patrick described the day he accepted the verbal commitment to Virginia Tech as the best day of his life. That, plus the goals he has laid for himself, has left Michael Naughton a very proud father.
“I give him all the credit in the world. He’s a hard working young man and I think he has a goal in front of him and he sees what he wants but he knows how hard it is and he knows how hard he has to work to get it.”
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- Justin A. Rice -- A metro Detroit native, Rice is a Michigan State University (Go Spartans!) and Northeastern University graduate. Rice lives in the South End with his dog and wife, who unfortunately attended the University of Michigan ... his wife, that is. He curates the BPS Sports Blog and is always looking to write about city athletes with great stories. Have an idea? He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.
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