Red Wing's Boldt and Team USA take gold
RED WING - Before Team USA left for the International Baseball Federation World Championships, Ryan Boldt said Los Angeles Dodgers legend Tommy Lasorda talked to the team and told them to bring back a gold medal, or else.
Lasorda coached the United States team to a gold medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia, and wanted to make sure America's brightest young baseball players knew what they were playing for.
"He said, 'If you guys don't come back with the gold, I'll whip every one of your guys' butts,'" Boldt said. "That was pretty funny."
The playful motivation definitely hit the mark.
Facing a Canadian team that beat them 1-0 in extra innings a few days earlier, Boldt and Team USA knocked off their neighbors to the north with a 6-2 victory Saturday in Seoul, South Korea, giving the Red Wing High School senior a gold medal.
"'We did it,' that was all that was going through my mind," Boldt said. "The day finally came and we got it done. There's really no way to describe it, I guess. Just knowing that all the hard work you and your team put in during the summer finally paid off. It was just a really special moment."
The first Minnesotan to play for Team USA since Joe Mauer in 2000, Boldt went 2-for-5 in the championship game and scored two runs as the Americans won gold for the first time since 1999.
"I remember earlier in the summer, talking about how exciting would it be to see him in another country wearing a USA jersey," Chris Boldt, Ryan's mother, said. "I get goose bumps again thinking about it."
In helping the U.S. to the gold, Ryan also helped his own profile by setting a new IBAF 18U World Championships record with 12 stolen bases in nine games, including a Team USA-record five stolen bases Sept. 1 in an 11-1 win against Colombia.
The previous Team USA record was seven set by Drew Meyer in 1999.
"That was a major factor of him making the team," Mitch Boldt, Ryan's dad, said. "There were a lot of guys with speed but also a lot of guys who got thrown out. ... He was doing what he was there to execute. It obviously felt pretty good to see him run the bases over there."
Boldt, the team's starting center fielder and leadoff hitter, also led the tournament with 13 runs scored, tied for third in Team USA history, walked eight times and had a .429 on-base percentage, good for third on the team. He also finished with a .273 batting average.
"The coaches were saying before the tournament started, 'When you go, the team goes,'" Ryan said. "Get on base and steal every base you can pretty much. That's what I did."
Ryan, who is verbally committed to Nebraska, was successful on all 12 of his stolen base attempts and was picked off just once.
"They gave me the freedom to go whenever I wanted," he said.
The gold medal and personal accolades finished off a summer most players could only dream about. Before playing for Team USA, Boldt was selected to the All-Area Code Team for his play in early August at the Area Code Games in California and won the MVP award at the Perfect Game All-American Classic Aug. 12 in San Diego as the first Minnesotan ever to play in the game.
He also helped lead Red Wing to its first state tournament berth since 1977, hitting .423 as a junior with 28 RBI, three home runs and 16 stolen bases.
But Ryan's baseball schedule isn't done and Chris said the family knows that big decisions are in the near future. Ryan is considered a top professional prospect because of his speed, patience and fielding ability, being ranked 29th in the 2013 draft class by ESPN's Keith Law, and more scouts will be monitoring his performances.
At the end of the month, Ryan will travel to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to play with the Cincinnati Reds Midwest Scout Team, and then will head down to Jupiter, Fla. for another baseball tournament. The whirlwind moves on but it's worth it, Ryan said.
"Coming back to school was kind of an adventure, talking to people and shaking hands," he said. "But it's special for me to have that support back home. ... For the most part I think just playing will have things fall where they may. If you just keep playing the game, show them what you're good at and keep winning, things will fall in place."
With all Ryan's accomplished so far, it appears they already have.