Disabato: Former SouthtownStar Player of the Year a changed man
By Pat Disabato email@example.com Twitter: @disabato April 9, 2014 6:32PM
Tim Barry, of Wabash Valley College | Supplied photo
Updated: May 11, 2014 7:27AM
The last time I saw Tim Barry on a baseball diamond, it was moments after Oak Forest had dropped an 11-3 decision to Kaneland in the Class 3A state championship at Silver Cross Field in Joliet.
Barry was upset that Kaneland pitchers chose to feed him breaking balls instead of challenging him with fastballs.
“It’s very frustrating because every high school pitcher has to pitch around me because they’re a bunch of babies,” Barry said. “They can’t test their abilities against a really good hitter like myself.”
That was June 11, 2011. It’s a quote that supported Barry’s critics who considered him immature and selfish.
Nearly three years and three colleges later, I can report that Tim Barry is a changed man.
“I’m a better person right now,” said Barry, the 2011 SouthtownStar Player of the Year. “After going through some things, you learn from those experiences and want to change. I had to re-evaluate myself.”
Barry was one of the greatest power hitters in the history of Illinois high school baseball and top three hitters I’ve covered in my 24 year career.
He hit more home runs — 53 — than anyone in the history of Illinois high school baseball.
More. Than. Anyone.
And its debatable whether anyone hit them at a greater distance.
He hit a home run over 151st Street in Oak Forest. Another into the top of trees some 100 feet beyond the left field fence at Richards. He hit a ball so far at Bremen, it landed near the third base dugout in the varsity softball diamond. He hit three home runs in a game against three three different Sandburg pitchers, each drive longer than the previous.
ESPN put him on the cover of its magazine.
Three years later, I still get asked where’s Tim Barry?
The 6-foot-0, 225-pound first baseman/outfielder is finishing up his second season at Wabash Valley Junior College in Mount Carmel, Ill. His numbers are outstanding: .384 average, 11 doubles and team highs in homers (7), RBI (35), walks (21), and slugging (.727). He’s also stolen nine bases.
“Tim ranks right up there with the top two or three guys in terms of raw power I’ve ever seen,” said Wabash coach Rob Fournier, in his 18th season. “If it wasn’t for the unbelievable bad weather, he’d have 12 or 15 home runs.”
If you recall, Barry was set to attend Kansas State. He never made it, instead enrolling at Dayton State Community College in Florida. His stay in Daytona Beach nearly was as brief as a spring breaker.
“It didn’t work out so well,” Barry said. “The coaches wanted to change my swing. It was their way or the highway. I couldn’t do it.”
He eventually landed at Wabash. He hit 12 doubles, two homers and drove in 29 runs last season. Something, however, wasn’t right.
“It took me about 11/2 years to figure out my swing again,” said Barry of his power resurgence. “My coaches at Wabash had me bring my hands down a little bit in my stance. It’s made a huge difference.”
That Barry was willing to adhere to his coaches advice is proof the young man has matured. However, it hasn’t been all sunshine and seashells during his two years at Wabash.
“Tim went through some growing pains last year,” Fournier said. “It’s been a challenge at times with Tim. He’s come a long way. It’s a growing process. He’s matured as a person and baseball player.”
Barry’s dream always has been to play in the big leagues. He might get that shot in the upcoming June Amateur Draft. If not, he’s bound to play Division I college ball.
“Division I schools are interested,” Fournier said. “He’ll play pro ball. Whether it’s this year or in the future.”
Barry knows he can’t control whether he’s drafted. He thought he was a lock to get selected out of high school, but was bypassed.
His main concern is baseball and books and not necessarily in that order — another sign of maturity.
“If I get drafted, I get drafted. If not, I’m going to get my degree,” said Barry, a business major. “I’m doing well in school. I know getting my degree will help me in the long run.”
Just in case that run doesn’t include a trip around the bases.