Pound Ridge native and Fox Lane graduate Richard Slenker was selected by the Houston Astros in the MLB draft Friday, June 16. He was picked in the 28th round and was the 841st selection overall.
Playing professional baseball has been the goal for Slenker from the beginning. Whenever asked, “What do you want to do when you are older,” his response has always been to be a professional baseball player.
“This is really a dream come true,” says Slenker. “It is the result of a lot of hard work, dedication, and support from so many people. This is what I have always wanted to do.”
Immediately following the selection, Slenker received a phone call from his former high school baseball coach Matt Hillis, and continued receiving numerous phone calls and text messages.
“I did my best to take a minute and just enjoy the moment,” says Slenker. “It was a pretty special memory to hug my parents who have sacrificed so much for me to follow this dream.”
Slenker started as a varsity batter for three years in 2010, and was the team captain in his final two seasons with the Foxes at Fox Lane High School. In those three years, his batting average remained over 400 and only increased with each year, batting a .423 as a sophomore, .457 as a junior, and .494 as a senior.
His baseball career continued at Yale University, where he graduated in May, started 31 out of 35 games his freshman year and playing more each year as an Ivy League player. He continued to have a high batting average in his four years at Yale, and was named team captain his senior year.
“Playing baseball for Yale was an absolute honor and privilege,” says Slenker. “I am forever thankful for the opportunity I was given to play there.”
After meeting the coaches at Yale University, Slenker knew immediately it was where he wanted to play. He saw the school as an opportunity to compete in the highest level of Division I baseball, as well as compete in the classroom with intellectuals from all around the world, according to Slenker.
Slenker will begin his professional baseball career in the minor leagues first until the Astros call him up to the majors.
“I have to go prove myself again,” says Slenker. “I am walking into it with my eyes and ears wide open to learn as much as I can.”
Slenker’s hope for his future in baseball can be summed up in just a few words: becoming the best player he can be.
“I want to accomplish as much as I can in this game,” says Slenker. “Wherever and whenever that future lies, I want to be able to hang up my cleats without any regret knowing I worked as hard as I could to become the best player I could be.”
For now, Slenker says he will try to take the whole process one day, game, and pitch at a time, but is also hoping for a future in the major league.