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Golden Valley's Billy Fredrick: Mr. Grizzly

Golden Valley’s Billy Fredrick will likely go down as school’s greatest hitter

Posted: March 12, 2013 9:24 p.m.
Updated: March 12, 2013 9:24 p.m.

Golden Valley senior Billy Fredrick is hitting .403 with eight home runs and 53 RBIs through his first three years at the school. During that time, he's played nearly every position.

 

Ernie Banks is known as Mr. Cub.

Lovable.

A perpetual smile on his face.

One of baseball’s all-time greatest power hitters.

The affable Hall of Famer played 19 big league seasons between 1953 and 1971, all 2,528 games in a Chicago Cubs uniform.

In that storied career, he played exactly this many postseason games — ZERO.

Billy Fredrick is as close to Mr. Grizzly as one could get.

Loyal, competitive and also affable.

The greatest hitter in Golden Valley High history.

Now in his fourth varsity season, the UC Santa Barbara commit is a career .403 hitter with eight home runs and 53 RBIs.

In his storied career, he’s been in ZERO playoff games.

“We haven’t done what I wanted to do for him,” says Golden Valley head coach Scott Drootin. “He deserves a chance to get into the playoffs. I know what it feels like for kids. I want him to have that feeling. He does all the baseball things right. I want him to be rewarded for all his hard work.”

It’s hard not to root for Fredrick.

Even before he arrived at Golden Valley, he was the kind of kid to pull for.

As a shaggy-haired Little Leaguer he was extraordinary.

He was profiled as a 14-year-old eighth-grader in a May, 2009 Signal article not only because of his ability to hit (his batting average for the Canyon Country Little League Cardinals was .774 — almost eight hits per 10 at-bats), but because of what he had to overcome.

Fredrick was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

His father, Rob, remembers the exact date — July 11, 2006.

Since then, Fredrick has had an insulin pump attached to his stomach every day.

He only takes it off to shower.

On the baseball field, the pump is noticeable because it looks like a little box attached to his belt.

It never slowed him down.

“I treat it as a part of me. It’s not something that holds me back. It’s part of who I am,” Fredrick says. “I want to control it. I don’t want diabetes to control me. I never feel sorry for myself about diabetes. I want to win over diabetes.”

Fredrick pricks the palm of his hand four times per game to check his blood sugar and regulates it with Gatorade or by giving himself an insulin shot through the pump.

That speaks of his desire to be on the baseball field.

Drootin affectionately calls him a “baseball nerd.”

Fredrick, 18, collects baseball cards, he watches baseball games on television and he has 15 bats in his bedroom.

On his lunch break from school, he goes home and hits in his homemade batting cage, which shoots fastballs at 90 mph and breaking balls at him.

It’s a funny picture, actually.

His mother, Yuko, feeds the balls into the machine.

“I didn’t have a choice really,” she says.

Yuko says, thankfully, that she’s never been hit by a Fredrick line drive.

And they are line drives.

Fredrick has a smooth left-handed swing that begins its attack from his hands at his left ear and cuts straight through the zone with little or no uppercut.

It’s a swing that has been honed in that backyard and from years of studying video.

Rob and Yuko used to record his at-bats so that he could view them and improve. But it quickly developed into Fredrick wanting his parents to record him.

“I would say it’s fierce,” Yuko says of her son’s desire to succeed and win.

She recalls a story of receiving a phone call from Fredrick’s third-grade teacher because he made a little girl cry in P.E. class.

The girl cried because Fredrick so doggedly played kickball (a game played with baseball rules but instead of a bat and a baseball, one kicks a soccer ball) by the rules and he was ultra-competitive.

Despite Golden Valley going 11-24 in the Foothill League in Fredrick’s first three varsity seasons, his spirit hasn’t been broken.

The fact is, Fredrick has helped Golden Valley to achieve respectability in the Foothill League.

In its three previous Foothill League seasons, the Grizzlies went a combined 5-30, included in that was a 1-14 2007 and a 0-15 2008.

Fredrick’s Grizzlies have beaten every Foothill League program in his career, and in his freshman season, in which he batted .427, Golden Valley fell one game short of making the CIF-Southern Section postseason for the first time.

“He doesn’t like to lose,” Drootin says. “Billy and I talk all the time. ... (I say to him), ‘You can only do what you can do. You got to be the best you can be.”

So he sacrifices.

Drootin says he feels bad because he’s caused the Fredrick family to purchase so many gloves.

In his four seasons, Fredrick has played every position in the field.

Yet it’s at the plate where he gives the Grizzlies the biggest lift.

“I think he’s such a goods hitter. He sees the ball so well. He’s a pure hitter,” said Foothill rival Saugus High head coach John Maggiora. “I’ve seen so many guys with good stuff go after him and he’s on second base.”

In 2012, Fredrick batted a Foothill League leading .468.

In his career, he has reached base 51.2 percent of the time.

He is the greatest hitter in Golden Valley High history.

What’s that mean to Mr. Grizzly?

“It means a lot to me,” he says. “It shows I’ve really accomplished something. On the other side it means nothing unless we win something. ... I just want to win. That’s my No. 1 goal — to take Golden Valley far.”

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