Baseball and family: The two key parts of Brian Sprout's life
If you go to Brian Sprout's Twitter bio, it reads "family and baseball, that about sums up my life."
And it's true.
The East Ridge head baseball coach has loved the game since a very young age, and he's loved his family no matter what.
"I remember sitting at home and watching the Cubs on WGN," Sprout said. "Baseball has been in my life for a very long time."
It started when he went to a townball game in Lake City, Minn., and saw the lights and the sound of the bat. He knew this would be a game he could play throughout his childhood.
When he was younger, he would usually go to as many townball games as possible and help with chasing down foul balls. If he wasn't at the field, he was at home watching Ryne Sandberg and the Chicago Cubs on the television.
"The summer was spent watching baseball or playing baseball and I always looked forward to each summer and playing baseball," Sprout said.
After high school, Sprout went to St. Olaf and played baseball for the Oles. He helped his team to three straight Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) titles and his jersey, No. 28, was retired from the St. Olaf College baseball program.
He held almost every offensive record in St. Olaf baseball, but once he finished school he wanted to continue to play baseball.
"Since I was young, I wanted to take the chance to achieve my dreams and play baseball longer," Sprout said. "It was the best decision I made because I was able to experience many different things I wouldn't have without the game of baseball."
In 2002, after graduation, he went up to Fargo-Moorhead and played with their independent league. Halfway through the season, he was traded to Joliet and finished out the season there. Throughout that first season, Sprout batted .278 and had nine home runs and 33 RBI.
Sprout went back to Fargo-Moorhead in 2003 and once the season ended, he was picked up by the Los Angeles Dodgers organization.
Sprout played with Vero Beach, the A+ level for the Dodgers, in 2004 and was sent to AA in 2005 and 2006 with Jacksonville. After eight games in 2006, Sprout went back to the independent league and joined the St. Paul Saints.
It was great opportunity for him to play, but also for his family to come see him play in the Twin Cities area.
"It was fun to be back in Minnesota once again and be able to play for the Saints," Sprout said. "I took advantage of anything that came my way and I was able to enjoy some fun experiences because of that mentality."
One of his favorite memories with the Saints was traveling to Japan as a team and playing some games in Asia. He knows that this wouldn't be possible without the game of baseball.
He stayed with the St. Paul Saints from 2006-08 and decided to pursue teaching. Ever since the fourth grade, Sprout knew he wanted to be a teacher.
He's been a U.S. History and geography high school teacher for the last 10 years and eight of them have been at East Ridge High School.
Along with teaching, he's been a baseball coach since the age of 15 and enjoys showing his love and passion for the sport to younger players.
"I saw the little things in baseball that others might not have seen," Sprout said. "I try to take that mentality try to find the little things in teaching and coaching for my students and players."
Along with being a teacher and a coach, he's a father and still a baseball player. Sprout plays for the Miesville Mudhens in Miesville, Minn. This gives him an opportunity to continue playing the game he loves, but he also gets to share it with his son who loves coming out and watching him play.
When Sprout was younger, he would get the foul balls for the townball team. Now, Sprout's son gets the foul balls that him and his teammates hit for Miesville. For Sprout, it's unbelievable to see that memory come full circle.
"It's great to see my family in the stands when I'm playing and hearing them cheer me on," Sprout said.
The Mudhens also gives Sprout an opportunity to learn as a player and share what he learns to his players at East Ridge. Sprout said it's been a learning curve with being a head coach, but he feels like he's matured a lot.
He's excited to continue learning in this position and hopes he can give these East Ridge baseball players an opportunity to see how baseball can help with life, not just the game.
"I hope to continue coaching for a long time because I really enjoy it," Sprout said. "I'm looking forward to the future with coaching and seeing how each of these players grow each year."
Whether he's coaching East Ridge or his kids' teams or playing baseball for the Mudhens or just being a father at home, Sprout will always keep baseball and family close to his heart.