CHICAGO - At 6-foot-4 and 233 pounds, winger Bryan Bickell is one of the Chicago Blackhawks’ designated hitters.
There was a point in his life when he might have become a designated hitter for the New York Yankees.
When he was a 17-year-old playing centre field for the Kendal Royals near his hometown of Bowmanville, Ont., he hit three home runs and had seven RBIs in a game against a team from Oshawa.
Word got around and a couple of days later his coach got a call from the local Yankees scout, who worked Bickell out.
“My parents didn’t want me to go hockey nuts, so I wanted to play another sport in the summer time and I played baseball when I was a kid for about 10 years,” said Bickell.
“I ended up getting scouted, but the year after we went to the finals of the Memorial Cup (2005 with the Ottawa 67’s of the OHL) and then the baseball career kind of faded off. Being from Canada, you want to play hockey. I still play a little baseball here and there.
“I played baseball for fun. If I had trained, who knows how far I would have went. I’m quite happy where I am now playing hockey.”
What would be his scouting report on himself?
“My dad says I can’t hit a curve, but he doesn’t know,” said Bickell. “I had a good arm, I think. The speed was somewhat there. I covered a lot of ground.”
Bickell said he and his teammates have been invited to take batting practice with the Chicago Cubs and he said he’s confident he could hit a home run at Wrigley Field.
“Yeah, I think so. I think I have enough power to do so. Definitely,” he said. “I’m a left-handed hitter and I heard when the wind is blowing out, everything goes out of that field.”