NEW BRITAIN - A former Goodwin Tech baseball player is not giving up on his dream of playing professional baseball.
Former Gladiator Justin Lemanski has signed on to play for the New Hampshire Wild, an independent team in the Empire Professional Baseball League. Lemanski expects to be a late-inning reliever and also be used as a utility-man in the infield.
Lemanski is thankful for simply having the opportunity to continue playing baseball, a game he has played since he was a little kid.
“I love everything about baseball,” Lamanski said. It’s a game that builds character. It teaches you about life. It’s a game where you learn from failure and teaches you to keep getting up and keep going.”
Lemanski graduated from Goodwin Tech in 2011 having made his mark on the school. On the mound, Lemanski went a combined 8-5 with a 2.52 ERA in his last two seasons at Goodwin Tech. He was even better from the batter’s box, hitting over .400 in both seasons and did not miss a single game. He was also honored as the Player of the Year for Goodwin Tech in 2011.
Lemanski credits Goodwin Tech head baseball coach Joe Granja for the work he has put in at the high school.
“He was a great mentor for me in high school,” Granja said. “That was the start of what made me the player and person I am today. I’m happy with what he has been able to do over there, not only with me, but with all the players.
When he wasn’t drafted after graduating from the College of St. Joseph’s in 2016, he knew that it was just a road block, not the end, of his baseball career.
“I knew I still wanted to play,” Lemanski said. “I knew playing independent ball wasn’t an easy road. But these guys still have passion for baseball, and playing in this league gives everyone, me included, hope that we can keep playing baseball.
Lemanski admitted that it’s been an easier transition to the Wild than he anticipated, due in large part to relationships he has developed within the league. He played for current Wild manager Scott Nathanson in Kentucky last season. In fact, nthanson was the person who brought him over to the Wild after Lemanski was cut in Spring Training in the Pacific Association League.
“Having played for him before, it’s easy because he knows me and how I play,” Lemanski said. “It has been a huge benefit since coming over here.”
The Wild begin their season playing their first 11 games in Puerto Rico. Lemanski admitted that the living conditions aren’t the greatest, with eight players per room. But it also gave him the opportunity to meet up with Jordan Matos, a player for the Puerto Rico Islanders and someone he played with at St. Joseph’s.
At just 24 years old, Lamanski refuses to stop playing. His ultimate goal is to get picked up by a Major League Baseball team
“I’m not giving up,” Lamanski said. “I know the odds aren’t in my favor. But I wouldn’t keep playing if I didn’t think I had a shot. I see guys get picked up all the time. So I’m not giving up on this dream yet.”
Tyler Roaix can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org