Injuries can’t keep Bryan Lathrop out of the circle

Written by Bob on June 12th, 2015
Bryan Lathrop pitching in the 2013 NAFA World Series for the Rice Lake, Wisc. Orangemen. Photo By BOB OTTO

Bryan Lathrop pitching in the 2013 NAFA World Series for the Rice Lake, Wisc. Orangemen. Photo By BOB OTTO

DeForest, Wisc. – No one would blame fastpitch pitcher Bryan Lathrop if he up and quit the game. He’s had his share of injuries. Last year, he was sidelined the entire season from hip surgery. He’s also got an ankle that nags him now and then.

But over Memorial Day weekend at the Dugout tournament in Cushing, he took a shot to the head from a softball hit so hard that it knocked him flat and out of the game and rushed to the hospital.

“I took a direct blow on the left side (head) and had a hell of a concussion,” he said. “I didn’t even see the ball or have time to get the glove up. I want to keep playing, but my body might be telling me otherwise.”

Time to quit? Time to try another position? Well, like most fastpitch pitchers, giving up the game is like asking a chocolate junkie to push aside the sweet addiction and “just say no.”

LATHROP STILL ENJOYS THE BATTLE

He’s thought of playing right field, perhaps moving into the DH role for his Rice Lake Orangemen. Those roles would certainly be much easier than battling some of the best hitters in the game.

Hitters that when they get a fat pitch offered up (pitchers do make a mistake now and then) like nothing better than blasting it right back at the fellow who chucked it up to the plate.

But Lathrop, 43, has been pitching since he was 12, starting in the Rice Lake boys’ program, and now 31 years later he really doesn’t want to give up that intoxicating battle that stirs the competitive juices between pitcher-and-hitter that both relish so much.

And there’s another fact. lathrop is pretty darn good at what he does.

A NAFA ALL-TIME BEST

He was a mainstay on Rice Lake boys and young men’s teams from age 11 to 23 that won several state and national championships; and he’s been selected All-World and an MVP at several NAFA World Series.

In 2010 Lathrop was at his best in leading Rice Lake to runner-up in the AA Division. He was the best pitcher in the division, earning the Most Valuable Pitcher award for his 6-2 record in 59 2/3 innings with 63 strikeouts and an ERA of 1.57.

And in 2012 he received about as illustrious an honor as a fastpitch player can receive when he was selected to the NAFA 20-Year Anniversary team.

DAD’S DEVOTION TO FASTPITCH

So no, he’s not about to quit just yet. And there’s another matter involving family – his dad. Loren Lathrop’s devotion to fastpitch is extraordinary: he’s a NAFA vice president and one of the organization’s founders in 1993; he’s the Orangemen’s manager; and he’s been the tournament director of the Rice lake tournament for 37 years.

“Nobody puts in as much time and promotion as he does,” Bryan said. “He is devoted to fastpitch more than anybody can imagine. He loves the game and has a great passion for the game.”

So knowing and admiring his dad’s fastpitch passion, it probably wouldn’t be easy for Bryan to tell him he’s hanging it up.

LIVELY BALL AND BATS

But that blow he took at the Dugout tournament has him thinking something needs to be done for the safety of the game.

“The balls are so much harder, the bats so much more thinner,” he said. “It’s kind of ruined the game. Home runs should be left to home run hitters.”

Lathrop’s certainly not the only pitcher thinking this way. But even with the dangers, he has proven that it’s hard to knock a good pitcher out of the circle.

“I got the OK from my doctor to play,” he said. “I’ll be making it back for the Rice Lake tournament (June 19-21).”

Good to hear Bryan, good to hear.

Leave a Comment