BATH — The Section V Baseball Hall of Fame will induct five new members with the Class of 2017 on Sunday, June 25, at Frontier Field in Rochester, home of the minor league baseball Rochester Red Wings.
Former Bath-Haverling baseball standout Dr. Rick Czajkowski will be inducted into this year’s class during pre-game ceremonies.
“It’s quite an honor and one of which I will always be proud of. It means just as much to my family and friends who helped me get there,” Czajkowski said.
Czajkowski a 1988 graduate of Bath-Haverling, had a remarkable three-year high school and four-year college baseball career, breaking records left and right everywhere he played.
Called up to the varsity team at Bath as a sophomore, Czajkowski had a school record .500 batting average with 30 hits and 29 RBI and was named a league All-Star.
His junior year he batted .540 and didn’t strike out in 193 at bats. He was named MVP by the Bath Elks and was named to numerous All-Star teams.
Czajkowski would close out his high-school baseball career with a slew of awards and one incredible stat, he struck out ONCE in 289 at bats.
“Rick was the best high school hitter I have ever seen. Then or now. Everything he hit was a blistering line drive,” Czajkowski’s Bath Coach Bob Rossi said. “He hit to all fields and was never fooled with change of pace with various pitches. We scheduled very good baseball teams to compete against, Corning, Horseheads, and Elmira schools. We saw excellent pitching and he murdered them as well.
“Everyone tried to pitch around him yet he ended up hitting over.500 for his career. He also was an excellent shortstop who could really pick it. His baseball IQ was through the roof. He was a doer not a talker. He never lost his cool or became angry,“ Rossi continued. “His senior year he had gone over 220 at bats without striking out. It was incredible. He had a keen eye for the strike zone. Once in a game against an opponent he came to bat and worked the count to 3-2 as he always did. The next pitch was clearly 8-10 inches outside and the ump smiled and rang him up on strike 3. That’s what it took to strike Rick out. Did he groan, roll his eyes, complain, or throw his bat? Nope, he set his helmet and bat on home plate and calmly walked back to his position. That was what Rick was all about. Pure class.”
In June of 1988, Czajkowski was drafted in the 40th round by the Houston Astros in the Major League Baseball Draft.
Czajkowski passed up a chance to play Minor League baseball for the Astros, instead accepting a scholarship to play baseball at Ohio University.
He would finish his four year career at Ohio University batting .325 in 716 at bats, with 128 runs scored, 233 hits, 41 doubles, six triples, seven home runs, 142 RBIs and only struck out 32 times.
Czajkowski would also break several records while playing at Ohio University. He would set single season records in hits (75), RBI’s (53), total plate appearances (214), total games played (58) and total runs (48). One of those records was held by Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt.
“It was cool at the time as he was a recent Hall of Fame inductee. Kids now a day probably don’t even know who he is! But I got his autograph and a few pictures together. I’m sure his is framed on his wall at home,” Czajkowski said while cracking a smile.
If Injuries wouldn’t have slowed him down does he ever wonder what might have been if he’d decided to sign with the Houston Astros?
“Every kids dream was to play big league ball and go to The Show. My injuries were a strained hamstring, throwing shoulder and a broken ulna (forearm, hit by pitch). I felt a little cheated to not have gotten an opportunity at pro ball, but life throws you curveballs once in a while. I had to adjust, a little chiropractic humor,” Czajkowski said.
“I have some photos in my office which remind me often of the glory days and people often ask me if I miss it. Ohio U was just on national TV in the regionals of the NCAA tournament and that brought back memories of my college career and when we went to the regionals in Florida. I try to stay in touch with some of my friends and often rekindle our playing days through text messages,” Czajkowski said.
Rossi added, “You can’t go wrong, getting into the Section V Hall of Fame from our area is rare, but boy they got it right when they selected Rick Czajkowski. He flat out could stroke the baseball like nobody else that I have ever seen play. Congrats, kid.”
For Czajkowski, it’s also a chance to think back.
“This whole experience has enabled me to think back on my career and how much fun it was. My parents were, and continue to be, my guide and steadying influence, while my three kids are the center of my world now,” he said. “Baseball was my world as a kid and teenager. I ate it, breathed it and slept it. That passion is now focused on being the best Dad and husband I can be. Which is a whole lot harder of a task! Thank you to all of you who helped me attain this honor. Coaches, batting practice pitchers, ball shaggers, newspaper reporters, fans and parents alike. You will always be remembered.”
Czajkowski returned to Bath following his time at Ohio University and Life College of Chiropractic in Marietta, Georgia. He now owns and operates Lake Country Chiropractic in Bath.