SIERRA VISTA — The batter’s box Darick Hall stepped into Wednesday afternoon wasn’t outlined in chalk and, instead of fending off pitches, he was answering questions from his former teacher and a gym filled with eager middle school students.
Hall, a 2013 Buena High School graduate and a first baseman with the Reading Fightin’ Phils, the Double-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies, gave advice he has learned on his journey to the major leagues to Joyce Clark Middle School (JCMS) students.
“During the (season) we do this (type of thing) at schools in the area, but it’s nice to be back here doing the same thing,” Hall said.
Eric Krieg, a PE teacher at JCMS, taught Hall at Buena and invited the professional baseball player to speak about the hard work and dedication he put in to have the success and make his dreams become a reality.
Seeing and hearing what Hall had to say was something special for JCMS seventh-grader Omar Rodriguez.
“It’s pretty exciting because he’s a (professional) baseball player,” he said. “I like baseball too and I want to be like that when I get older.”
When asked what he hoped the students took away from the question-and-answer session, Hall said he wanted them to learn hard work pays off and that education is important.
“If you want to be a good athlete, you have to be a good student, first and foremost,” he told the packed gymnasium.
His message of keeping grades up and maintaining a good performance in school is what stuck out most to Rodriguez, who said the most important thing he learned was “that education gets you places.”
Hall was introduced to baseball by his family. He grew up watching his uncles have success on the diamond at Buena and at the collegiate level. It was after seeing his uncle Shane Hall get drafted that Hall set his goal to make it to the major leagues.
“I always thought of baseball as a dream,” Hall told the Herald/Review earlier this year. “I always wanted a chance to play at the highest level ... I chose to chase the dream.”
After graduating from Buena, Hall went on to play at Cochise College. He told the room of seventh- and eighth-graders that he didn’t have big name colleges recruiting him out of high school and the schools that were paying attention to him were the local junior colleges. Hall said the high reputation and success the Cochise College program has and his love for his hometown is what made him want to attend school in Douglas for two years. Hall traded his Apaches uniform for the Patriots of Dallas Baptist University, where he played one season before being drafted in 2016.
Even though he left school early, Hall is close to completing his degree in Interdialiniary Studies: kinesiology and sociology, through Dallas Baptist University.
Hall led the Fightin’ Phils in home runs, runs batted in and walks this past season. He won the Eastern League home run derby and was on the league’s all-star team.
“Pro ball is tough. Just like anything you do in life,” Hall told the Herald/Review earlier this year. “(The minors are) like a crazy hard internship — because baseball is a skilled sport, you have to craft your skill.”
Hall hopes athletes from Sierra Vista and the surrounding areas realize that just because they are from a “small” town doesn’t mean they can’t achieve their goals.
“Just because we are from a semi-small town doesn’t mean they have to think small,” he said. “I know kids from way smaller towns that are doing what I’m doing.”