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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 the plate.
“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 needed.”
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 added.
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.



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