by Daniel Moore
Press Staff Writer
It was the love of the game that brought American Falls High School 2006 graduate Ryan Udy back to playing baseball. He’s fielding and hitting for the Gate City Grays, a new semi-pro baseball team based in Pocatello.
“I still wanted to play and it was a good opportunity for me,” Udy said. “I just love the game.”
Shane Burt, who graduated from AFHS in the late 1990s, agreed.
“It’s great to be back in the game. I’ve been out of it for quite awhile,” he said.
Burt is pitching for the team, while Udy already has one home run under his belt for the season. Joining him on the offensive end is AFHS graduate K.C. Qualls, who has also hit home runs for the team this year.
Udy played through college, at Treasure Valley Community College and Northwest Nazarene University, before taking some time off from baseball. Burt has not played since high school, and he said that was the biggest difference. Your body doesn’t react the way it does in high school, he said.
“I’m hurting in places I didn’t hurt before,” he said, jokingly, though he mentioned a previous injury on his landing leg makes that leg need working out more.
Udy, Burt and Qualls join one other AFHS graduate on the team, manager and co-owner Erica Fredrickson, whose maiden name was Erica Jahnke.
Fredrickson, who played softball at AFHS, said her and her husband, Terry, were following friends to see the Blue Sox, a semi-pro team that played in Smithfield, UT, just north of Logan.
“It was just a great experience. I thought we could do that here,” she said.
The team found a home at Halliwell Park in Pocatello. The field had been used by minor league teams in the past, but currently was just used by Idaho State University teams in the spring and American Legion teams in the fall.
The Fredricksons organized the team. They were somewhat apprehensive about starting the team, but the Pocatello community showed the team support early on.
“I was really surprised, especially that the first game was sold out,” Erica said. Even when the weather was bad, they still had good attendance, she said.
Erica is working on a master’s degree and working at Loveless Neilsen and Loveless Law Offices in Pocatello. Terry is the manager of New Day Products in Pocatello as well.
She said the players like coming back to the game.
“It seems like they’re having a good time. They’ve got some chemistry,” she said.
The Grays are now second-place in their league. So far, they only have one loss on their record. The Grays are coached by Trent Siemons, who coached the Wood River American Legion team before coming to the Grays.
Tickets are $5 and available at New Day Products, 1704 N. Main, Pocatello, or at the Orange and Black store, 123 S. Main, as is promotional apparel. Their next home game is on Saturday, July 5, in a double header against the Blue Sox. They have home games on the weekends through July.