Jay Eckhouse has seen and coached a lot of talented ball players over the years, but never one like Brady Brady.
“The ball comes out of his hand different than most players, it comes off his bat different, it just sounds different,” said Eckhouse, the head baseball coach at Illinois College (IC). “He’s been blessed with some gifts that only a small percentage of players have. Most of those players are playing professionally.”
If everything goes as planned for the Illinois College senior, Brady will soon be signing his name to a professional baseball contract, as well. It will be the next step in a long journey that – if hard work, talent and determination have anything to do with it – still has a long way to go.
Brady is a 22-year-old Jacksonville native, the son of Caleb and Teresa Brady. The Bradys are a sports-loving family and it’s fair to say that Cain Brady was born with a bat in his hands.
“I first started playing organized baseball at the age of four, but since my parents never bought me any toys, only sports equipment, I really started a lot sooner than that. I usually swung my whiffle ball bat at anything on the coffee table, or at the dog,” Brady said.
It didn’t take long for his baseball gifts to shine through. He played on a team with his brother, Cody, who is four years older. Cain Brady went from rec league to competitive traveling teams, including the Jacksonville Storm, coached by Gary Barlow and Jeff Lonergan. Always seeking a higher level of competition to keep up with his advanced development, his parents eventually signed him up with a team based in St. Louis. But then, Brady’s path to Illinois College took a major detour.
The Brady family relocated to Henderson, Nevada, but Cain Brady didn’t leave his passion for baseball behind. There, he quickly caught the eye of competitive teams in the area and he enrolled in the prestigious Las Vegas Baseball Academy. As a pitcher and shortstop, he helped to lead Coronado High School to the state title in his senior year.
Brady’s skills, along with his size, made him a highly coveted recruit for top baseball colleges. He signed with the College of Southern Nevada where he played and excelled for two years. But circumstances would lead Brady and his family out of the desert and back to their hometown of Jacksonville.
“My grandfather, with whom I was exceptionally close with, was ailing and I wanted to be playing as close to him as I could,” Brady said. “I decided to play at Illinois College so he would possibly be able to attend some of my games.”
While Coach Eckhouse can tell Brady is special just by the crack of his bat, there are plenty of stats and accolades to confirm his assessment. He holds the school record for most hits in a season (63), while hitting .444 last season. As an All-Midwest Conference South Division First Team selection, he led the division in hits, RBIs, doubles and total bases. His proudest accomplishment was receiving IC’s William J. Downer Male Athlete of the Year Award.
“I think being able to represent IC on the baseball field and hopefully bring some recognition to the baseball program is huge, as well,” he said.
Cain Brady has always dreamed of playing professional baseball. In addition to finishing up his college career this spring, he has been busy spending extra time in the batting cage and practicing a workout program he developed with the assistance of professional trainers and major league scouts.
“I feel that if I do everything I can do prepare myself physically and mentally, and I keep God close and trust Him to do His will in my life, then I can’t lose, no matter what happens.”