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Former Colonial Forge pitcher Matt Fouch got a taste of professional baseball life before duty called.
ROBERT A. MARTIN/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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BY ADAM HIMMELSBACH
It can be difficult to turn dreams into reality, and that is one of the reasons it can be so gratifying when they are reached.
Matt Fouch always dreamed of becoming a professional baseball player. With his strong left arm and devastating fastball, Fouch's dream rose from the improbable to the possible.
Last June, the former Colonial Forge High School and Army pitcher was selected by the Atlanta Braves in the 34th round of the Major League Baseball draft. He breezed through the rookie league and into high Class A ball, and his future seemed as bright as stadium lights.
But that is where Fouch's story began to veer away from those of other minor-leaguers. That is where his focus switched from one dream to another.
Fouch left the Braves' minor league team in Rome, Ga., after two months and returned to West Point, N.Y., to begin fulfilling a two-year service commitment. And he knew there was a chance he might never go back.
Fouch knows how quickly time disappears in the life of a professional athlete. He knows baseball teams do not wait for players like him forever.
"I had a great time playing baseball, but I also had a great time with the guys I was with at Army," Fouch said. "A lot of good friends have already come back from Iraq or Afghanistan or are there now. It's one of those things I feel like I need to do. I owe it to the friends I graduated with."
A DAZZLING LEFTY
Fouch's competitive streak was evident at an early age. When he was in fifth grade, he walked three batters in a row in a little league state championship game.
The head coach walked toward the mound to check on Fouch, and Fouch waved him back to the dugout. He then struck out the next three batters. After the game, the umpire gave the game ball to Fouch's father, William, who was an assistant coach.
"He didn't know Matt was my son," William Fouch said. "He said, 'You should give this ball to your pitcher, because he earned it today.'"
Fouch became a star pitcher and outfielder at Colonial Forge. He had to miss a game during his senior year because his wisdom teeth had been removed, but he sat on the bench to support his team.