Michael James - Norwood's Own Dirt Dog

By Christopher Tremblay Staff Sports Writer
Issue Date: 
June, 2017
Article Body: 

According to Wikipedia, a dirt dog is a scrappy, hardworking, tenacious blue collar individual; usually associated with baseball. The term originated in Boston for Red Sox right fielder Trot Nixon. Norwood baseball coach Kevin Igoe sees Michael James as one such individual.
“Michael is definitely classified as a dirt dog,” the Mustang skipper said. “He works harder than anyone else to improve his game. In fact, while everyone else went home he spent hours working in the pouring rain.”
The senior captain mainly patrols center field while leading off for the Mustangs and occasionally gets a start here and there. While he’s considered a five-tool guy now, things were not always that way for the Norwood outfielder.
“During my freshman year, I was not as good a ball player," James said. "In my sophomore year, I hit my first homerun for the junior varsity( JV) team and found myself bumped up to the varsity team by the end of the year. I was so excited to be there I would do anything to help the team.”
James suddenly found himself on the bench with the rest of the Mustangs entrenched in the Division 1 State Tournament. After Medway captured the Division 1 South Tournament, James found himself as a pinch runner in the State Semi Final against Andove,r and when he disobeyed his coach, he suddenly found himself as the hero.
“I was on first base and moved to second on the hit," James said. "Not listening to my coach, I kept going and slid under the tag to take third. I was yelled at for not listening, but then I was praised for eventually scoring the tying run.”
Norwood would ultimately win the game 2-1 to move onto the State Championship game.
Being a left-handed thrower, James found himself on the pitching mound more than he would have liked during his Little League days, and that has translated to his high school playing time.
“I was not a strong pitcher, but being a lefty I pitched a lot,” James said. “Not that I minded, but I’d rather play the outfield; centerfield gives me a wide range, I’m fast and love long throws into the field.”
Playing the outfield allows James to utilize his speed, but he also gets to use his velocity on the base paths as well.
“I was 10 years old playing Little League where you are not allowed to steal," James said. "You have to wait until the ball gets in the catcher’s glove before you could run and I would still steal the base – that’s when I realized I was fast. Nowadays, if I get on base, I’m expected to run on the second or third pitch.”
Coach Igoe believes his speed is one of his best assets.
“He runs a 4.5 down the line to first base from the plate,” Igoe said. “He not only has speed, but power and hits for average (.338) and is one of the most athletic players we’ve had here at Norwood in some time.”
The Norwood centerfielder sees himself more as a singles and doubles hitter, but if you leave one down the middle of the plate he’ll make you pay.
The senior will be heading off to Quinnipiac University in Connecticut where he hopes he’ll give playing baseball a shot, but in the meantime he still; has the rest of his high school season to complete and a few goals he wants to accomplish.
“As a team I obviously want to get into the tournament and make a run in it,” he said. “Individually I’d like to hit in the high 400 / low 500 range while hitting 7 homeruns and being named the Bay State League MVP.”