Democrat File Photo
by Rob Potter
WSL baseball MVP
Mike VanBourgandien of Tri-Valley
VanBourgandien Named WSL MVP
By Ted Waddell
GRAHAMSVILLE — June 23, 2000 -- Mike VanBourgandien, a senior at
Tri-Valley Central School, was recently picked as the Western Sullivan
League’s (WSL) baseball MVP.
The singular honor was special in a couple of unique ways: it’s the
first WSL baseball MVP of the new millennium, and it’s the last MVP
award in the WSL, as the tradition-rich league is in its final season.
Bears varsity baseball coach Jim Kelly said his MVP was a one-man team,
as VanBourgandien, called “V.B.” by teammates, played a variety of
positions including catcher, pitcher, second base, third base,
shortstop and left field. During the season, he was most often behind
“I consider Mike the dominant player in the league this year,” said
Kelly. “Every time we were in a big game, he came up with the hits we
According to the first year varsity baseball coach, VanBourgandien was
a team leader both on and off the field.
“During practices, he always encouraged the other players and worked
with them at the start of the season to get them in the hitting groove,”
said Kelly. “Once we started playing, you could hear his voice above
everybody else’s out there on the field.”
Kelly described his memories of VanBourgandien's play during what he
called a “real tight game against Delaware Valley.”
“Mike hit a beautiful two-run home run in the game,” he said. “It
was a great hit when we needed it.”
In addition, VanBourgandien served as team captain and was voted T-V
MVP by his teammates this year.
His stats: .620 batting average (36 hits in 58 at-bats, including seven
homers, two triples and nine doubles); 24 runs; 38 RBI; and an on-base
percentage of .741.
During the season, he struck out three times.
“He was always the first one to offer a hand up to another team’s
player after a rough play,” said Kelly. “He never said anything
derogatory about another team or player.
“God, I would like to have a team full of Mike VanBourgandiens,” he
VanBourgandien has attended Tri-Valley for two years, after
transferring from his birthplace on Long Island in order to live with
his family near Grahamsville.
“I started playing baseball when I was in kindergarten or first
grade,” he recalled. “It was my Dad and me.
“My coaches in high school on Long Island taught me a lot, and I just
worked on it,” he added. “Coach Kelly was great, and I had a lot of
fun with him this year.”
According to VanBourgandien, this year’s Bears WSL championship team
(its fifth consecutive title) is the best team he’s ever played on.
“We all wanted to play, and we all wanted to win,” he said.
As the WSL MVP selection process neared the finish line, it was no
secret that it was going to be a close call between VanBourgandien and
Delaware Valley’s Rory Carrier.
“I said to myself, if Rory gets it I wouldn’t mind because I played
against him, and he’s a really good ball player,” said
VanBourgandien. “He would have deserved it as well as me. I was
ecstatic when I learned I got it.”
After graduation, the WSL’s Baseball MVP plans to study elementary
education (with a minor in psychology). He hopes to try out for the
baseball team at SUNY-Brockport.
VanBourgandien said that maybe down the road a ways, he’ll wind up
playing some Double A minor league ball.