Most athletes playing baseball in the Northwoods League dream of competing in the major leagues.
Along with the prestige of playing professional sports comes the chance to fraternize with other celebrities and famous people.
Brainerd Mighty Gulls shortstop Ryan McCarthy has a head start on the hobnobbing. He hails from West Lake, Calif., where he lives in the same neighborhood as actress Heather Locklear and former NHL great Wayne Gretzky, and he has seen recording star Will Smith in movie theaters and on golf courses.
"One of my friends is real good friends with Wayne Gretzky, so we go over to his house and Wayne Gretzky will be right there," McCarthy said. "I talk to him. I don't ask for autographs, though. That would be kind of weird."
McCarthy, who will be a sophomore at UCLA next fall, was encouraged by his coach, Gary Adams, to play for the Mighty Gulls this summer.
"My coach just said one day he'd like me to come to Brainerd, Minn.," McCarthy said. "It sounded like an interesting and fun experience."
Minnesota has been a different experience for McCarthy. During his first few days in the state he experienced severe weather and saw a game cut short because of lightning.
"We don't often see lightning and thunderstorms (in West Lake)," he said. "There are not too many forests. Where I'm from, it's just kind of city with trees here and there.
"You don't have fences between houses, from what I've seen. It's just a house here and a house there, without really any boundaries."
While McCarthy may have the part about hobnobbing with celebrities down pat, he plans to improve his game by getting bigger and stronger. Through Sunday's game, he was batting .267.
"He's kind of a wiry, strong, athletic kid," Mighty Gulls head coach Kyle Crookes said. "He has good hands and a good feel as a shortstop. He covers a lot of ground. I like the things he does at the dish when he's at batting practice. I think he's a little behind because he's missed 30-40 at bats with a wood bat against live pitching.
"I'm impressed with his makeup as a young kid. As a freshman, he played almost every day at UCLA. That's a high-pressure situation."
McCarthy comes from a long line of excellent shortstops at West Lake High School. He is the fourth consecutive shortstop from the school to play Division I baseball, with his predecessors going to Stanford, Miami and California State.
McCarthy said attending UCLA was the best way to reach his goal of making it to the majors.
"My whole life, that was my goal, to make it to college," he said. "My long-term goal is to make it to the pros, but to make it there I thought college would be best."
He hopes to play for either the Yankees, because of their tradition, or the Dodgers, his hometown team located in the city where he was born.
McCarthy's father will be in Brainerd this week to watch him play and find out what he has learned. One thing McCarthy has experienced is the rigorous schedule similar to that in the majors.
"It's a long season," McCarthy said. "You don't get too many days off and if you have one bad game, you have to bounce back the next day and hope you can play better than you did the day before."
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