Gaither player raised on baseball
TAMPA - With a bag of Taco Bell in one arm and her newborn son, Brady, in the other, Caroline and Nelson North took their son to his first baseball game. Gaither High first baseman Brady North was born to a father who is a baseball fanatic, and his mother isn't much different. After several years of coaching college baseball, Nelson North is an assistant coach at Gaither, and Caroline is known as "The Queen" around Gaither fans and a fixture in the press box. Nelson was an assistant coach at Belmont University in Nashville and he wanted his newborn to see a game before going home for the first time. They watched a Belmont game as Brady slept. Caroline doesn't remember who won, but it set the stage for Brady's lifetime love of baseball. "He grew up in a ballpark," Caroline North said. "He was really shy as a kid. We told him if he would just start to socialize with other kids he could play baseball."North is hitting close to .500 for the Cowboys. He hasn't made an error all year at first base and has taken on a role as team leader despite his understated personality. His dad worked as an assistant at Belmont and the University of Tampa before moving on to the University of South Florida. Brady went with his father every step of the way, to practice and to games, taking time in the batting cage when he got the chance. Brady, a senior who signed a letter of intent to play for Hillsborough Community College, remembered that his dad didn't get to see him play too often because of his coaching duties. He said he is excited that his father is at Gaither and watching him at every game. "We had a kind of bittersweet relationship," Brady said. "He knows my swing better than I know myself. We'd watch baseball all the time, and sometimes we'd go out to the garage in the middle of the night and practice what we saw. Sometimes we would argue, but he knew my swing. I remember those nights in the garage, but they made me a better person and a better player." The hours in the garage, the hours attending his father's games and the hours of sneaking into the USF batting cages paid off. Brady moved on to Gaither in ninth grade and his prep career took off. He spent time playing right field, but moved to first base, where he was mentored by major leaguers Fred McGriff and Tino Martinez, both Tampa natives. Gaither coach Frank Permuy said Brady comes from the same defensive mold as Martinez and that the two share similarities on offense and defense. "He has Tino's finesse at first base," Permuy said. "He has the same work ethic. He knew when we moved him to first that he had a lot to learn, but he learned quickly. He hasn't made an error yet this year, and he has the baseball instincts he got from his dad." The best batting instruction Brady ever received from his father? "Just hit the ball hard," he was told. "Put the fear of God into somebody."