Phil Anastasia: At Eustace, Bartholomew sets an example by being patient

Adam Bartholomew is greeted by his Bishop Eustace teammates after belting a home run. Bartholomew, who didn't start a game last year, had to wait his turn while watching standout catcher Greg Brodzinski, who graduated and is now at South Carolina.
Adam Bartholomew is greeted by his Bishop Eustace teammates after belting a home run. Bartholomew, who didn't start a game last year, had to wait his turn while watching standout catcher Greg Brodzinski, who graduated and is now at South Carolina.
Posted: April 15, 2011

Nobody wants to wait anymore.

Nobody wants to bide his time. Nobody wants to pay his dues. Nobody wants to stay patient and positive until his turn.

That's what is so special about Bishop Eustace's Adam Bartholomew.

That's why Crusaders baseball coach Sam Tropiano can't say enough good things about his senior catcher.

It's not just that Bartholomew was 10 for 20 through his team's first five games. It's not just that he was tied for the South Jersey lead in home runs with five, including a pair of grand slams.

It's not just that Bartholomew and the rest of the rebuilding Crusaders have been one of the surprise teams of the early part of the season, with a 4-1 record and the championship of the Ralph Shaw Classic at Audubon.

It's the example set by Bartholomew. It's the way the athlete spent years in the shadows - without complaint, without attitude, without resenting his teammates - before finding his place in the sun.

"This is a kid you want to root for," Tropiano said. "This is a kid who caught a bazillion bullpen sessions and never said a negative word. This is a kid who waited for his chance, and now he's making the most of it."

Bartholomew spent his first three years in the Bishop Eustace program buried on the depth chart behind Greg Brodzinski, one of the best catchers in recent South Jersey history.

Brodzinski was a two-time all-South Jersey selection by The Inquirer. He earned a scholarship to South Carolina and is a freshman for the defending national champion.

Last season, Bartholomew didn't start a game. He appeared in just 12 of the Crusaders' 30 games.

"I would have liked to play more," said Bartholomew, who lives in Haddonfield. "But Greg is a great friend of mine, and he is a great player. I learned a lot from him. I feel like the three years I spent behind him made me the player that I am."

Nobody wants to be a program player anymore. Nobody wants to play freshman ball and junior varsity. Nobody wants to sit on the bench behind more experienced teammates.

Kids are so advanced at such a young age, with so much coaching and so much high-level competition - and, in many cases, so much parental influence - that there's pressure to make an immediate impact at the varsity level.

By sophomore season, at the latest.

Bartholomew took another route. His case is special because he was behind such an accomplished player in Brodzinski.

But it shows the other side of sports. It shows that a kid can sit on the bench, wait his turn, support his teammates, and continue to improve.

And he can be ready to excel when his chance arrives, even as late as the spring of his senior year.

"Eagerness is the best way to describe it," Bartholomew said of the mind-set he shares with several other 12th-grade Crusaders who are seeing varsity action for the first time. "There's such a great tradition here. We're all so proud to be a part of it and to try to step up and keep it going.

"I feel like I'm blessed to have this opportunity."


Contact staff writer Phil Anastasia at 856-779-3223 or panastasia@phillynews.com.

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