Brandon’s Mason Hodgson pitches during Saturday’s tryouts at Andrews Field. (CHRIS JASTER/BRANDON SUN)
Mason Hodgson is following in his family’s footsteps.
The 15-year-old Brandonite’s father, Jamie Waddell-Hodgson, was drafted by the Kansas City Royals and played professional baseball in the minors before becoming returning home to become a star in the Manitoba Senior Baseball League with the Brandon Cloverleafs.
Hodgson’s grandfather, Brian, is another former Cloverleafs all-star who was also a member of Canada’s national baseball team in 1971 and was inducted into the Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005.
Mason Hodgson knows his family’s baseball history well, and he’s doing his best to live up to the hype and succeed in the sport.
"I think (baseball is) the argument at the dinner table wherever I am," said the Grade 10 student from Neelin High School. "I just try to take it one pitch at a time like I always do in a game. Looking at the big picture, I feel like I have big shoes to fill."
Last year, Hodgson was one of three Westman players on the 15-and-under Manitoba team that competed in the Western Canada Summer Games in Kamloops, B.C. That has been the highlight of his career so far, but Hodgson wants to create new memories.
He’s trying out for Manitoba’s 2013 Canada Summer Games development team and hopes he’ll be able to play against some of the best players in the country next summer in Sherbrooke, Que.
"I think I gained a lot (last year at the Western Canada Summer Games)," Hodgson said after Saturday’s provincial team tryout camp at Andrews Field. "Even off-field experience like how to handle yourself on a long trip like that and how to take care of your body and have a healthy diet … I’m hoping this year I can continue on and go to the Canada Games next year and go down to the States this year with the prospects team."
Manitoba’s head coach Marc Babaluk is familiar with Hodgson’s lineage and is impressed with how the Brandonite can play multiple positions. Last year in Kamloops, Hodgson was used as a right-handed pitcher, a third basemen and played in the outfield.
"It’s a testament to his overall skill as a player," said Babaluk, who coached Manitoba’s 15U team last season. "He was a utility guy for us. He can basically play anywhere.
"He does a lot of things at a high level and he’s just a good team guy. He’s one of those guys who everyone on the team loves. He’ll run through a wall for a coach if you tell him to. He’s a guy his teammates love and coaches love. Just a guy who plays the game the right way and loves the game."
This summer, Hodgson will continue playing the sport he loves and follow in his family’s footsteps by joining the Cloverleafs.
Hodgson isn’t expecting a lot of playing time with the MSBL club based on his age, but he’s hoping it will help him develop more, so that baseball can continue to play a major role in his life.
"That would be awesome (to have baseball in my long-term plans)," he said. "If I play it or coach baseball, that would be my dream."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 15, 2012