• June 30, 2015
For Brighton’s Ernie Clement the last week has been a whirlwind. Early last Thursday morning his University of Virginia baseball team captured the NCAA Championship in Omaha and, later that night after a red eye flight, the team and 4,000 Cavalier fans partied with panache at the John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville. And, in a week or so, Ernie starts his next baseball adventure when he heads Midwest to play summer ball for the Wisconsin Rapid Rafters.
And Ernie has been on local TV. His proverbial sixty seconds of fame!
On Monday, I had the chance to meet Ernie at the youth baseball camp in Brighton run by Brighton Head Coach Jason Wasserman. Despite all the hoopla, Ernie was as advertised: a polite, humble, even tempered young man. He told me he began himself at the camp as a first grader and only left when he was too old to come back. In those camps, he was mentored by Coach Wasserman and members of the Brighton varsity team who Ernie saw as role models. Thrilled to have the chance to spend a few days with the younger kids, Ernie is in his element: playing catch, pitching in the cage and sharing his love of the game.
When we talked baseball, Ernie wanted to talk about his 14 Cavalier teammates who had painfully lost the 2014 championship game to the same Vanderbilt Commodores. And how much the new guys like himself wanted to win it for them. As for his summer goals with the Rapid Rafters, keep it simple. Plate discipline, pitch selection, work the count. For fielding. Reps, reps and more reps.
I first remember watching Ernie play two years ago at a game at Buckland Park in Brighton. Seeing him at bat, I turned to man next to me, “This kid can play.” It happened that the man was Ernie’s father. Mr. Clement only talked about Ernie when asked. I learned that from a young age Ernie had almost preternatural hand/eye coordination. Ernie seemed to master any game he tried. Mr. Clement never pushed Ernie or forced his gifts. Just let him play.
As a former Brighton Baron myself (Captain of the Chess Team counts), I say, Ernie make us proud.