Brandon Fahey would rather not be around people. When the Oriole rookie has spare time, he'd just as soon spend it at home by himself. Forget public speaking; Fahey doesn't even like public places.
Put Fahey's name in the lineup and hand him a glove, however, and the quiet kid from Texas is more than happy to run on to the field at Camden Yards and perform.
Teammate Kevin Millar said, "'You give me nine Faheys and we'll go to war.'" (Sabina Moran/PressBox)
That sense of calm stems in part from the 25-year-old's lifelong exposure to baseball. His father, Bill Fahey, had been the No. 1 draft choice of the Washington Senators in the secondary phase of the 1970 draft and was nearing the end of his 12-year career as a major league catcher. After his playing days ended, Bill coached with the San Francisco Giants, and his two sons often traveled with him, spending time in the clubhouses or taking batting and fielding practice.
Brandon Fahey never tired of being around baseball and dreamt all his life of playing in the major leagues. He said he was fortunate to be brought up around the game and that getting to observe firsthand the lives of big league players gave him more to work for.
Baseball is and always has been fun for Fahey. He said that often people, especially parents, forget it is a game and push their children too hard. But despite his father's major league experience, Fahey never felt this pressure.
"A lot of people probably think that he pushed me, made me play baseball," he said. "If I had wanted to do something else in life he wouldn't have cared, he just wanted me to be happy. But I love baseball, and I stuck with it."
In 1999 the San Diego Padres drafted Fahey out of high school in the 17th round. A year later the Orioles used their slot in the 32nd round to draft him out of junior college. But each time with his father's council, he opted instead to continue improving his skills at the college level. After winning a national championship with the University of Texas in 2002, Fahey was again drafted by the Orioles, this time in the 12th round.
After playing third base and left field in college, Fahey primarily played shortstop in the Orioles' system. He impressed club officials in spring training this season, but did not make the Opening Day roster. When All-Star second baseman Brian Roberts was sent to the 15-day disabled list in April with a strained groin, the club recalled Fahey from Triple-A Ottawa.
He was in the batter's box when his manager called him over and told him he would be going to Baltimore.
"It was like I was dreaming, I didn't believe it," Fahey said. "It was like my whole minor league, my whole baseball career, college, everything, was just flashing through my head. All the hard work had finally paid off. My girlfriend didn't believe it. My parents, they were hysterical."
Roberts has long since returned to the Orioles, but Fahey has not been sent back. His positive attitude, versatility in the field and surprising success at the plate have earned him a secure roster spot and the respect of fans and teammates alike.
"I always say, 'You give me nine Faheys and we'll go to war,'" first baseman Kevin Millar said. "And it's the truth, because he plays the game the right way, he understands and appreciates the major league level. He's been nothing but a plus for us."
It's not only his teammates who think Fahey has been a breath of fresh air for the Orioles. Jerry Bathory, a member of the Orioles event staff and an Oriole fan, said Fahey is one of the first players at the stadium everyday, getting his stuff together in preparation for practice. He added that in addition to being a hard worker, Fahey is a great guy.
"I see him passing me in the hall, see him on the field, asking me how I'm doing," Bathory said. "Of course, I ask how he's doing, but usually they don't ask how you're doing."
Fahey said his greatest strength as a player is his attitude because he is always willing to do anything asked of him and never takes anything for granted. Though he said he gets along well with all of his teammates, he has found friends and mentors in Millar and center fielder Corey Patterson.
Another example of Fahey's positive attitude is the fact that he views his slender 6-foot-2, 160-pound build as an advantage.
"When you're on defense and you see a skinny guy come up to the plate, you assume," Fahey said. "I assume things, and I'm sure other people assume things by the way I look."
Since he has been in the major leagues, Fahey has gotten a lot of pleasure out of proving skeptics wrong. In his first major league at-bat he singled off Seattle veteran Jamie Moyer and his first major league home run came against Boston ace Curt Schilling. In 45 games this season he is hitting .276 with two home runs,18 RBI's and 24 runs scored.
"He's definitely one of my favorites because he's the perfect example of why baseball's awesome," Millar said. "You can be any size, you don't have to be 6-9 so you can dunk a basketball or 300 pounds so you can run over somebody in football. He's a baseball player."
And he has been all of his life.
Issue 1.13: July 20, 2006