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BASEBALL '87 : Holdridge: Off the Mound but Still in the Game

March 11, 1987|STEVE LOWERY | Times Staff Writer

David Holdridge is a live-for-the-moment kind of guy, and what ran through his mind after he had stopped running--involuntarily--had nothing to do with personal fame, school pride or future shoe endorsements.

A moment before, he had been playing pickup football, running a wide-out far too wide.

A moment later, he was heaped on the ground, having slammed his right shoulder into a metal pole. Besides the obvious pain, and, let's face it, embarrassment, there were other things involved here.

Things like future professional baseball contracts and the present high school season. All of which was lost on Holdridge's mind.

"All I'm thinking at the time is 'ouch!' " he said.

With David Holdridge on the mound, the Ocean View High School Seahawks are one of the baseball teams to beat in Orange County. Without him, Ocean View is still in the county's top 10, but it isn't the same.

Holdridge, at 6-feet 3-inches, excels in all facets of the game but above all is a right-handed pitcher who regularly throws in the low 90s. He had a 7-0 record last season with a 1.45 earned-run average, and he struck out 79 batters in 54 innings.

But Holdridge won't be pitching for Ocean View--at least, not for a while. Because of the dislocated clavicle he received over the winter, he will be a designated hitter for at least the first half of the season.

The accident occurred Dec. 22. The next day, Holdridge went in for surgery. It wasn't until Dec. 26 that he called Bill Gibbons, Ocean View coach, to tell him what happened because "there was no reason to ruin his Christmas."

When Gibbons picked up the phone that morning, Holdridge said hello, then told him he had some bad news.

"I thought, 'Oh my God, he's moving,' " Gibbons said. "Then he told me about the accident. I wasn't real happy about that, but at least he was still going to be around."

Said Clyde Wright, a former Angel pitcher who has worked with Holdridge: "He's a can't-miss kid last season. He had the body, the ball speed, everything. As of last season, there was no question in my mind that he would play in the major leagues."

Gibbons said: "I don't think there is a team that can absorb a loss like this without feeling it."

Ocean View, the defending Sunset League champion, did a decent imitation in its opening game this season. Pitchers Brent Knackert and Mike Fyhrie combined for a one-hitter in a 9-0 victory over Pacifica in the Loara tournament.

"We're going to be just fine," Gibbons said. "Knackert and Fyhrie are Division I pitchers, no doubt about it. I don't think anyone is going to be feeling sorry for us, or complaining that they won't get to bat against David."

Holdridge is healthy enough to throw, not pitch. He can hit with no problem and has started the season as Ocean View's designated hitter. He hit .306 last season with 4 home runs and 18 RBIs.

"I feel fine," Holdridge said. "The doctor said my shoulder should come back as strong or stronger. It's just a matter of time.

"The way I look at it, right now all my options are open. I plan on going to college, and I'm still hitting this year. This team is so strong that losing any one player isn't going to kill it."

Gibbons said that when Holdridge is strong enough, he will graduate to the outfield.

"He's probably the best outfielder I have," Gibbons said. "That's the position a lot of the pro teams are considering him at. He's got speed, the arm and power at the plate. . . . We won't pitch him until we are completely sure. If that means he doesn't pitch this season, then that's that. We'd like to have him out there, but his future comes first."

In the meantime, Holdridge will have to be content with hitting and becoming his own tall tale. Not long after his accident, word got around the El Toro area that Holdridge was ambidextrous and was throwing 85 m.p.h. with his left arm.

"I have a friend who lives in El Toro," Gibbons said. "When he told me that, I dropped the phone, I was laughing so hard."

Holdridge gave El Toro quite a bit of trouble last season. He pitched a one-hitter, struck out 12 and hit a home run.

"Yeah, I had a game," he said.

"I think that game really opened up some eyes," Gibbons said.

Gibbons' eyes get wide when he recounts Holdridge's feats. He points to a spot well beyond the fence of the Ocean View field.

"I've seen him hit balls 100, 130 feet past that fence," said Gibbons, pointing at a 360-foot sign.

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