Saladino winner Ramsay had long road to recovery
BRANDON - Perhaps no winner of the Tony Saladino Award - given the past 40 years to Hillsborough County's top senior high school baseball player - was as surprised or as happy as Brandon outfielder James Ramsay on Sunday evening. The reasons are many for Ramsay, who was taken to the Brandon residence of Tony and Bertha Saladino to receive his trophy. For starters, Ramsay missed his entire junior season with a torn ACL in his left knee, a fact that left him to hard-core rehabilitation for more than six months. "I spent a lot of days on one knee hitting off a tee because that's all I could do," said Ramsay, who also spent hours a day stretching and lifting weights for the knee. "I couldn't stand not to hit."Or to play. The most frustrating part, Ramsay said, "was having to watch my teammates play without me. There were a lot of depressing times." That's why when Ramsay ran to center field to start the 2010 season, he said he couldn't have been filled with more appreciation for the game. "There wasn't a moment during the whole season that I wasn't thankful to be playing," Ramsay said. "Being injured helped me appreciate everything so much." Ramsay, who ended his senior season hitting .417 with three homers and 17 RBIs, now has the opportunity to either play for the University of South Florida, with whom he signed, or sign with the New York Yankees, who drafted him in the 38th round. No matter what, Brandon coach Matt Stallbaumer said he sees Ramsay being a success. "James never gets too high or too low and he's always in control," Stallbaumer said. "He has great instincts." Sunday, however, Ramsay said he had no clue how he was to be honored. "I thought I was going to a team banquet thing," Ramsay said. "When I learned what it was I was so honored I can't even begin to tell you. After what I went through with the knee and everything it feels so awesome."