No dramatic rain storm could dampen the spirits of Brian Gump.
Nor could teasing teammates or a recent struggle at the plate.
His grin was unmistakable when I visited with him in the midst of the SAL playoffs.
"My playoffs have been great, statistically and even more so experience wise," he said.
He spent most of 2008 with the Gulf Coast League Phillies, the team's Rookie level affiliate where he hit .317 and knocked in 19 runs. He finished the regular season at Lakewood hitting .200, and a .317 OBP.
The BlueClaws were a team with superb pitching, boasting a roster with guys like Jesus Sanchez and Matt Way. Gump pitched a little (!): in one inning of work he gave up no runs and no hits.
To say 2009 was a full experience would be an understatement. The BlueClaws were a group of talented guys that Gump has the utmost respect for.
"As we have gone further and further into the playoffs, I have become more and more appreciative of how special this team and this opportunity is."
One week after talking to him, the BlueClaws won the SAL championship title for the second time in franchise history. They defeated the Greenville Drive in four games.
Gump chronicled his first professional season in baseball in a very personal and entertaining blog. It got him local attention when Philadelphia Daily News writer Paul Hagen did a story on him. His genuine and warm personality comes through, but it would: this is a guy who lists "make people happy" as one of his goals. In meeting him you realize it's the real deal. He relates in a genuine way that translates on the blog and has let people get a true glimpse of minor league life.
As most minor leaguers do, he returned to a winter job doing marketing work for UC Santa Barbara.
In describing the overall championship-winning experience, the English major doesn't get too literary."Words kind of fail, not surprisingly as they usually do in explaining great experiences, in describing the playoff experience," he says. "But it has been a hell of a lot of fun."