Born with a stutter in his voice, Greg Lucas has done nothing so far this summer season to show he is sputtered on the baseball diamond.
The Post 48 pitcher and first baseman has stepped up when his team needed him the most and became a quiet leader on the Hickory squad.
Lucas has battled stuttering from a very early age.
When he was 10-12 years old, Lucas made several visits to the neurologist to look deeper at the issue and try to remedy it.
“I’ve had it all my life,” Lucas said of his stuttering. “I was born with it. I started talking one day and started pausing. I went to three different brain doctors for it. They said when I talk that the airflow through my brain gets cut off. It just causes a pause in the speech.”
Made fun of as a kid, Lucas turned to the baseball diamond for solace.
“When I’m on the field, I don’t really think about (stuttering) at all,” Lucas said. “When I play baseball, my stuttering just gets blocked out because I’m in fight mode and ready to play.”
As he grew up, the stuttering became less of an issue to his classmates, and he even accepted the trait.
“It gets the girls,” Lucas joked. “They think it’s cute.”
This summer has been Lucas’ first season playing American Legion baseball.
The experience has been both interesting and exciting.
“We’ve all played against each other our whole lives,” Lucas said of his teammates. “Some kids are from St. Stephens. Some are from Hickory. Some are from Bunker Hill. It’s good to finally play with them. This team is going to be around. We’re going to be a challenge in the playoffs.”
Post 48 coach Fore Rembert said Lucas’ teammates have embraced the St. Stephens grad.
“We don’t think anything of his stuttering,” Rembert said. “We all have our little quirks, but the little idiosyncrasies that we all have in life are what make us all so unique. I taught special education for a long time and saw a lot of that with those kids. That’s what makes us all special is our individualism. Everyone is not the same. He is just one of those kids that I really, really enjoy coaching on this team.”
While he may be a first-year player, Lucas has immerged as a silent leader for Post 48.
After Hickory used nearly all of its pitching staff in a 23-16 win against Waynesville on May 29, Lucas was called on to pitch the next day against Rutherford County.
He helped his team by going the full nine innings of that game, allowing five hits, no earned runs, two walks and striking out four Rutherford County batters in an 8-4 victory.
Not limiting his play to the mound, Lucas has also spent a few games this season patrolling first base.
“Greg’s number one role on our team is obviously pitching,” Rembert said. “He knows that. When we need him to step in and fill the void as a hitter or a first baseman, he’s been more than willing to go in there and do that. He’s done a very good job of that. He is a very good defensive first baseman. He takes a lot of pride in that position. He asks questions. Do I need to hold him on first base? Can I play behind him? He doesn’t leave any stone unturned. He understands baseball and that is what makes it even better to coach a kid like Greg.”
Lucas even uses his stuttering to his advantage against his opponents.
“It’s an edge,” he said. “Players look at me as a kid that stutters, but when they come up to the plate, I strike them out. I get a good feeling.”
Lucas will attend Catawba Valley Community College this fall, but before that, he has several goals he’d like to achieve.
“My personal goal is to get a scholarship and win a state championship,” he said. “That’s the whole team’s goal.”
His goal outside of baseball is to pursue a degree in Business Management and continue his family’s tradition of owning Mister Tuxedo in Hickory.
It’s a goal Rembert believes Lucas will achieve — and then some.
“Greg is a very good kid,” Rembert said. “He shows up early. He leaves late. He wants to be a part of this team as much as anybody. He wants to succeed as much as anybody. I think not only will he in baseball, but he will in life. He’s got great parents. They are very supportive of him. His coaches are supportive of him. His teachers are. They think the world of him. He’s got a great life ahead of him if he’ll keep working hard and staying focused.”