Ryan Meyer first started playing baseball when he was 4 years old.
His dad rolled the ball to him in the back yard. He chased after it while making like the Energizer Bunny. He kept going and going and going.
Meyer’s baseball batteries are running out of life nearly a decade and a half later. He is a senior at Marist High School and reaching the one-third milepost in his final season on the diamond.
After he graduates from Marist, Meyer will enroll at Eastern Illinois University and turn his attention full-time to football. He signed with the Panthers in February as a defensive recruit. He likely will play safety, outside linebacker or defensive end in college.
He has the size and speed.
Meyer stands 6-4 and weighs 195 pounds. He plays shortstop for the RedHawks’ baseball team like a young A-Rod. He has a big arm and even bigger bat. He smacked a two-run homer in the top of the fifth inning of a 4-0 victory over Sandburg on Monday afternoon in Orland Park.
Then, he recalled his humble beginning in baseball and thought about the inevitability of storing his glove in mothballs. He wants to go out with a bang.
So far, so good.
With Meyer leading the way, Marist has raced out of the starting blocks. The RedHawks are 7-2 heading into a 4:30 p.m. game Thursday at home against Chicago Harlan.
“I knew this most likely would be my last baseball season,” Meyer said. “So, I just wanted to play for the fun of it. This was my first sport. I probably started when I was 4 years old.
“My dad (Tom Meyer) coached me. I played at the Evergreen Park Rec League pretty much all my life. He’s been coaching for a long time with my three brothers and me. He always says when I was real little it started out with him just rolling a ball at me and I wouldn’t stop for hours.”
Tom Fabrizio—Meyer’s coach at Marist—has come to admire Meyer’s go-go approach, say nothing of his ability to take over a game. He’ll take the ball and deliver the pitching goods for the RedHawks whenever it is his turn to work on the mound.
“Ryan is a versatile kid,” Fabrizio said. “He can do a lot of things for us. And I’ve said many times I think one of the biggest things he brings outside of his physical tools is leadership. I think the kids respond to him.
“How he goes is how our team goes a lot of times. When he as struggled at the plate (in the early going), he has not hung his head. He’s played great defense. And he’s done a nice job for us.”
Meyer slugged a first-pitch fastball from Sandburg’s Matt Farrington over the left field fence on Monday. Then, he faked a bunt in his next at-bat.
“Yeah, he definitely got a good piece of that,” Fabrizio said. “He’s been swinging it much better the last 3-4 games. He’s been getting on pitches. And I knew he would. It was just a matter of time.
“Did I call for that bunt on his next turn up? No. I should have slapped him for that. You know what, though? I think just to prove he can do that, too, he likes to play a little game. The third baseman is playing him in the grass.
“I can see him just looking down there and going, ‘Oh, maybe I’ll bunt.’ He’s kind of a goofy kid. Smart baseball-wise, oh yeah, no question. If he dedicated himself strictly to baseball and didn’t get hung up with football, he really, really could be a good player.”