If you don't know who Michael Tucker is, you should. And someday baseball fans all over America will.
They don’t call it the Prospect League for nothing.
Throughout this summer, I’ve had the great opportunity to cover and watch the future of our national pastime. I’ve gotten to know the players well and even made some friendships along the way, something I hope to someday tell my children and grandchildren about.
But when it comes to all these amazing ballplayers I’ve become acquainted with - and this is truly no offense to the rest of the guys - Michael Tucker really takes the cake as the big future ballplayer you’re going to hear about on ESPN and whose baseball card you’re going to want to stashed into your pack when you leave the checkout lane.
Just like a majority of little-big towns across America, good ol’ Hannibal-Moe is blessed to have a collegiate summer baseball team with the Hannibal Cavemen where fans can cheer on the best of the best at the college level. Players who could one day be wearing pinstripes, birds on the bat, or a scripted “W” on their cap.
Yet Tucker, I think, will someday be more than that.
Next to his big bat at the plate and his premier skills as a catcher, he is just an overall great guy. The kind of guy, I would look up to even though I’m probably a good five years or more his elder.
I often write about my hero Roger Maris and how he’s a great inspiration to me, but I can honestly say that “Tuck” - as he’s often called by teammates - has those same qualities. Something that the youth of America will deeply admire.
Tucker’s work ethic and aggressive play on the field alone are enough to capture the molding mind of a baseball dreamer, however, it is his personality that can win over baseball fans of all ages.
A few weeks back the Cavemen were preparing for a game and I was hanging out on the field and in the dugout. “Tuck” comes up holding a cherry-wood baseball bat and calls over a boy sitting in the stands. He had to be between 9 and 12 years old.
“Hey, buddy. How’s it going,” Tucker said to the shy youth.
The boy spoke softly.
Michael introduced himself and the shocked fan said his name so quietly it was hard to catch.
“Will you do me a favor and hold onto this bat for me,” Tucker asked.
The boy smiled and nodded.
“Tell you what, you keep it,” the catcher told him.
I couldn’t help but feel so happy for that kid. It’s not every day a baseball player like Michael Tucker comes up to you and just hands you a bat.
Moments later, I discovered that young man was singing the national anthem that night and like anyone at his age, he was nervous, but after talking to the family member who was with him, all those butterflies went away when “Tuck” handed over his bat.
Tucker’s just one of those rare guys you don’t see too often these days. He’ll do anything for anyone and has the kindest heart when doing so.
There’s not a single autograph he denies, not a a single conversation he walks away from and not a single hand he doesn’t shake when fans say “hello” or congratulate him on a great game. He’s a true gentleman, in a gentleman’s game and I think we can all better ourselves just a little bit more when we see him on a baseball field.
Whether it’s the way he tips his cap to the crowd, the cross he draws outside the batter’s box before every plate appearance, the way he plays the game or just his kind nature, “Tuck” is someone to look forward to in a big league uniform as his senior year of college approaches.
Dominic Genetti writes for the Hannibal (Mo.) Courier-Post.