Since publication, Ricky was traded to the Evansville Otters on July 4.
To play a game that you love is something every athlete strives to do through his or her athletic career. To play competitively at the collegiate level is an aspiration for high school athletes throughout the country. Playing competitively beyond the collegiate level is often a dream come true for a student-athlete at any level – Division I, II or III.
For former Heidelberg University baseball player and Toledo native Ricardo Lizcano, who has been playing baseball for the better part of 18 years of his life, playing beyond the collegiate level simply “feels normal."
“I feel like playing baseball was what I was meant to do and I am grateful to have the ability to play after school,” said Lizcano.
The 22-year-old outfielder was signed by the Johnson City Cardinals on June 24, 2012 making him one of the few of Heidelberg athletes to sign with a professional organization. On March 20, 2013 Johnson City released Lizcano, only for him to be picked up nine days later by the Lake Erie Crushers.
“I enjoy playing in the Frontier League because it’s similar to the competition I faced last year at Johnson City,” said Lizcano. “The average age of the guys in the league is about 23 and 24 so it’s good, competitive baseball and I think it is a good fit for me right now.”
“Playing for the Crushers is fun,” said Lizcano. “Beside the level of play, it is a lot closer to my parents so they are able to come to see games, I’m able to hang out with a lot of my friends and the team has great chemistry. It reminds me of playing at Heidelberg in some ways.”
Although he is enjoying his time with the Crushers, Ricky says he is still actively pursuing a career in the major leagues.
“It is still a goal of mine,” said Lizcano. “There is a lot of thinking involved in being released but I’m only 22 and hopefully I have more years in the league. I hope to get picked up by an affiliate club someday. I know there are a lot of bumps in the road but it’s all about how you perceive and learn from the them.”
At Heidelberg, there were few bumps in the road for Lizcano as he graduated as the most decorated baseball player to in program history. He amassed 251 hits, 195 runs, 16 triples, 34 home runs and 176 RBIs while wearing the tri-color.
He owns seven single season records, four career records and nine post-season accolades including the 2010 Ohio Athletic Conference Player of the Year honor.
“Playing under coach Palm at Heidelberg taught me discipline and a work ethic that has helped me accomplish what I have so far,” recalled Lizcano. “In high school it was difficult to receive coaching outside of practice but the college atmosphere is a better place to learn and to have the coaching staff push you pass your own limits,” said Lizcano.
Having to cope with the disappointment of being cut can be a career changing and difficult lesson for aspiring professional athletes. However, even if his career in major league baseball does not come to fruition, Lizcano graduated Heidelberg in 2012 with a degree in Business and Sport Management to fall back on.
“My dad told me when I was first considering Heidelberg for school that, it’s not where you go, it’s how you get picked up. If you’re good enough, they will find you.”
“It is obviously harder for a player in Division III to receive the same exposure as a Division I or II player but if you work hard and you’re good enough, they will find you. You just have to never give up on your goals,” said Lizcano
Ricky has collected one home run this season while batting .258 for the Crushers. Coincidentally, his lone home run came against the Evansville Otters on June 12. It was his mother’s birthday.
Photos courtesy of: Kate Walsh '12