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Baseball road starts at 'The Rock' for Zimmerman

December 1, 2012

Punxsy's Ty Zimmerman swings through a hit during a 2012 Chucks baseball game. Zimmerman signed to play baseball collegiately at Slippery Rock University. (Spirit file photo by Zak Lantz)

SLIPPERY ROCK — Every road starts somewhere. The road to ‘The Show’ has many routes, turns, stops and bumps to get to it. Punxsy has another potential ‘Big Leaguer’ ready to start his own road next fall on a not-so-distant collegiate baseball diamond.

Slippery Rock University has inked Punxsy’s Ty Zimmerman as a member of its Rock baseball team next season.

“We are excited to get him,” commented Slippery Rock’s head baseball coach Jeff Messer. “He is the first player we have had from Punxsutawney with its rich tradition of baseball players coming out of there.”

Zimmerman shares his future coach’s excitement when talking about his future collegiate home.

“I signed there early, as I liked coach Messer, Slippery Rock and how it was all set up,” tells the Chucks standout. “I was always told you would know when you get that warm, fuzzy-type feeling inside when you are visiting that it is the place for you. I had that good feeling when I was there it could be home for four years.”

Slippery Rock has been a steady successful presence in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Western Division ranks. With four Conference titles to its credit, The Rock has posted at least 25 wins in each of the last 10 seasons including a 25-25-1 mark this past spring and an impressive 48-13 campaign in 2003.

Along with a quality winning tradition and boasting the Conference’s finest facility in Jack Critchfield Park, The Rock had another strong drawing card that helped make a decision for the Chucks player to sign on the dotted line.

“Ty is athletic enough to play right away,” pointed out coach Messer. “He will have a chance to play; it may not be at short stop but we really are looking for him to contribute right away as a freshman.”

Ty concurred again, “My goal is to play right away. I take pride in being versatile and playing where I can help the team.”

Zimmerman has made the most of his playing time with the Chucks.

The infield anchor helped Punxsy extend its District IX team dominance to nine-straight championships and a combined 29-13 record the past two seasons.

Zimmerman was voted the 2012 Punxsy team MVP and earned District IX Northern Allegany Baseball Large School All-Star team status. For the honors in 19 games, the short stop hit .444 with 24 hits, six doubles, a triple, three homers and 16 RBI to 
go with a .759 slugging and .583 on-base percentages.

The future Slippery Rock player looks to be one of the future seasons of PSAC players to be drafted. As a Conference, the PSAC has seen at least two players drafted by Major League Baseball clubs in each of the last six years and 14 of the previous 15 draft classes.

One of the most noted MLB alumnae includes 1982 Milwaukee Brewers’ Cy Young winner Pete Vuckovich of Clarion, who was drafted by the Chicago White Sox.

Three other more recent World Series winners have also come from the Conference with both former New York Yankees infielder Pat Kelly and St. Louis Cardinals outfielder John Mabry hailing from West Chester.

In fact, this year’s World Series winner San Francisco Giants’ pitching ace Ryan Vogelsong, was a 1998 Kutztown draftee.

On a more personal Slippery Rock level, Zimmerman will look to follow his future fellow alumni’s example. The Rock saw its first player dig into a MLB batter’s box this summer when 2009 alumni first baseman Matt Adams played for the St. Louis Cardinals. Along with his field aspirations, Zimmerman will present his upcoming new home team with a fine student-athlete as well.

“Ty comes from a super family. He is a good student which we look for as well,” added coach Messer.

Zimmerman, a National Honor Society member, plans to pursue a degree in Pre-Engineering with a Physics minor while on the Slippery Rock campus.

The hard-working Zimmerman was also a key member of the Chucks boys’ soccer team and was named an UAVSL All-Star as a midfielder this season.

Slippery Rock hopes it has found a future ‘Rock’ for four years starting next fall.

Zimmerman sees The Rock as the place to starting his road to the majors.

He would love to see his place he "could be home for four years" end like former Slippery Rock player Doug Zimmerman — of no relation — who finished his college career as a 1972 draft choice by none other than the Pittsburgh Pirates.

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