Verducci: The hard, historic roads that lead to baseball’s magic number: .400

From Tom Verducci at Sports Illustrated on August 8, 2019:

Powerfully built at 5’11” and 210 pounds, Darryl Brinkley, an outfielder and leadoff batter, could always hit. Staying with teams was another matter. He was a 1,000-point scorer in basketball at Stamford (Conn.) High—but was also a self-described knucklehead. “Ninth grade, I didn’t bother with baseball,” he says. “Sophomore year, didn’t even think about it. Junior year, I was too late for tryouts. Senior year, I made it and lasted a week or two before they kicked me off the team. I was pretty bad, and bad in school. But I was pretty good in Babe Ruth and Legion.”

A scout from Sacred Heart in Fairfield, Conn., saw him play summer ball and offered him a scholarship. “When I decided to take the game more seriously, I knew I had to watch more baseball on TV,” he says. “Who can I hit like? I settled on Paul Molitor. I thought, I can do that. He just lets the ball get there and he doesn’t miss fastballs.”

As a senior at Sacred Heart, in 1988, Brinkley batted .529. Nobody drafted him. Three years later a friend told him about an opportunity abroad: “Holland. They’ll be waiting for you at the airport. Have a good season.”

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Originally published: August 9, 2019. Last Updated: August 9, 2019.