Childhood dreams weren’t based on intangibles for Gophers shortstop Rick Brosseau. Both of Brosseau’s parents had reached the professional sports level.
Brosseau’s grandfather, Don Carlson, played basketball for the Gophers before moving on to the Minneapolis Lakers. While the family’s athletic history all started with basketball, Brosseau ended that aspiration early.
“I always told him basketball sucked,” Brosseau said.
Despite hearing stories about “Roberto Clemente and other studs” that his father played with during his time with the Pittsburgh Pirates, the North Oaks, Minn., native ventured onto his own path. Taking after his mother, who was a professional figure skater and one-time Olympic team alternate, Brosseau chose hockey.
“I really did learn to skate before I could walk,” Brosseau said. “I developed into a hockey player at a young age. I was never playing with my age group. I was never on the B-team. I always made the A-team.”
Brosseau made his own name in the sport. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound athlete was recruited by schools such as Wisconsin, Harvard and Minnesota.
This commitment to hockey kept coaches such Minnesota’s baseball coach John Anderson mildly interested in the Hill-Murray high school student. By his senior year, however, Brosseau at last decided to follow in the steps of his father, who was a member of the Gophers 1964 national championship baseball team.
“(Brosseau) was one of the last players we signed that year,” Anderson said. “But the ones you sign last tend to be the best because you know the most about them.”
As a true freshman last season, Brosseau played a role in one of Minnesota’s most successful campaigns. Anderson isn’t fond of activating first-year players, but Brosseau turned that theory on its head.
The shortstop played in 57 of 60 games and posted a .316 batting average. Brosseau was a Collegiate Baseball honorable mention in 1998.
“Rick’s been one of the exceptions in my career,” Anderson said. “I think he has great confidence in his ability, and his ability controls his emotions. That’s why he’s done so well.”
This season has been a little slow for Brosseau’s liking. The sophomore has a .264 batting average.
“Last year Rick kept things simple, and that’s why he succeeded,” Anderson said. “I think he’s been less successful at the plate this year because this is his second year in the league. As a freshman, they pitched differently to him. Now they know his history.”
But Brosseau remains steady in the field. The shortstop with a .943 fielding percentage has showcased his range this season, reaping the praise of the ESPN theme song on several occasions during the team’s home games.
“He always makes the routine plays,” Anderson said. “He makes the hard ones, too, but he’s always been real consistent with the routine balls.”
As Minnesota closes out its regular season with a four-game homestand against Michigan State this weekend, Brosseau will probably take time out of the action to climb into the bleachers and discuss his latest base hit-saving stab with his father.
After all, he’s the one Brosseau decided to follow.
“He can teach me tricks about the game that no one else can,” Brosseau said. “He’s the best coach I’ve ever had.”