Weekly Feature



2018-07-05 / Sports

Will East’s Mack nabs Player of the Year honor

by PATRICK J. NAGY
Reporter


Charles Mack broke 16 school records over his six-year baseball career at Williamsville East. The 2018 All-Bee Baseball Player of the Year was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the sixth round of June’s Major League Baseball Draft. Photo by Jason Nadolinski Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Charles Mack broke 16 school records over his six-year baseball career at Williamsville East. The 2018 All-Bee Baseball Player of the Year was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the sixth round of June’s Major League Baseball Draft. Photo by Jason Nadolinski Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Charles Mack was regarded by many as the best high school baseball player in the state this spring so it is not a surprise that he was chosen as the 2018 All-Bee Baseball Player of the Year.

The Williamsville East senior shortstop received 14 of a possible 22 votes from coaches in the Bee’s coverage area.

“It’s awesome,” Mack said. “I try to play the game the right way. It’s nice that the coaches have recognized that, and I really appreciate it.”

Mack’s talents were also recognized at the state level as he was named the 2017-18 Gatorade New York State Player of the Year, given annually to the player who is recognized for athletic excellence, high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character on and off the field. Mack is the first player from East to earn the honor.

Jerry Gasz, who has coached high school baseball for 49 years, including 43 years at East, said he might be biased because he is his coach, but he believes Mack is the best player in Western New York.

“He’s a player who comes across once in a lifetime,” Gasz said. “I’ve coached in over 1,000 high school games, and I have never seen a kid as driven like this. He’s a throwback player who eats, drinks and sleeps baseball. It was like having another coach on the field. He has a lot of baseball savvy, wisdom and maturity beyond his years. He’s not a typical 18-year-old. It’s been a pleasure coaching him.”

Gasz said Mack is the most decorated player in team history, receiving All-American, All-Region, All-State, All-Western New York and ECIC II honors throughout his career. Mack has also been a two-time All-Bee First Team recipient, as well as a multiple MVP team award winner.

The All-Western New York and ECIC Division II Player of the Year was a monster at the plate for the Flames, which finished with a 19-2 record and reached the overall Section VI Class A final. Using a wooden bat all season, Mack hit .475 with five home runs, six doubles, 23 RBIs, scored 34 runs and had a slugging percentage of .836. He also stole six bases and was walked 24 times.

Mack is East’s only six-year starter in school history, playing at second base, shortstop, catcher and designated hitter before starting at shortstop the past two years.

“Wherever I put him he was my best player,” Gasz said.

Mack, the third three-year captain in school history, leaves East with 16 school records: seasons played (6), games played (124), plate appearances (524), at-bats (409), batting average (.441), hits (179), singles (98), doubles (55), walks (108), total bases (253), extra-base hits (76), RBIs (128), runs (155), offense efficiency rating (155 runs plus 128 RBIs minus 13 home runs, 270), on-base percentage (.650) and fielding percentage (.990).

With Mack in the lineup, East won the past three ECIC Division II titles and posted a 34-2 league record, earned two Section VI Class A-1 titles, one overall Class A section title, one Far West Regional crown and made one appearance in the state finals.

“For a local team, we had the best talent that we could have asked for,” Mack said. “I can’t say enough about the guys. I wouldn’t trade my time with them for anything. Outside of travel ball, being able to play high school baseball has been awesome. The coaching staff has always been supportive. It’s been a great six years.”

Mack’s world changed on June 5 when he was selected by the Minnesota Twins in the sixth round — 184th overall — of the 2018 Major League Baseball Draft.

Mack is the third baseball player from East to be drafted. Paul Daddario was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 29th round in 1983 and Zach Anderson was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 29th round in 2009.

“It was one of my lifetime goals and dreams,” Mack said. “I worked every single day and hour towards this. I could not really be more excited. I’m blessed.”

Getting drafted was something Mack envisioned eight years ago after he won an Aquafina Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit and Run national championship in the 9-10-year-old boys division in Anaheim, California, held on the Monday before the 2010 MLB Home Run Derby.

“At the time, I thought this is cool and I wouldn’t mind doing this for a living,” Mack said.

The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Mack had a feeling that he was going to get drafted; it was a question of when. Heading into the draft, he was ranked 133rd.

“The Twins were the third team that called,” Mack said. “A couple teams were thinking about taking me in the round before or two rounds before when the Twins called. They were really excited. It unfolded pretty quickly.”

Mack said he was recognized by MLB scouts mainly through his play with the Tri-State Arsenal, an elite regional team based in New Jersey. He has also gotten exposure by playing in the East Coast Pro Showcase in Tampa Bay, Florida, and the Area Code Games in Long Beach, California.

As of press time, Mack was still deciding whether or not to go to the Twins’ organization or attend Clemson University where he had signed a scholarship. If he decides on going pro, Mack is projected to play at third base.

Whatever decision he makes he could not have done it without his entire family — his parents, Allan and Christina, and his younger brother and sister, Joe and Christy — who Mack says have supported him throughout his journey.

email: pnagy@beenews.com

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