Happy days are here

  • By Nick Patterson / Herald Writer
  • Wednesday, July 13, 2005 9:00pm
  • Sports

EVERETT – Rob Hudson is one of those fortunate few who had the opportunity to live out his dream.

Now, just three weeks later, he’s living out yet another one.

In a matter of days, Hudson went from hoisting the championship trophy at the College World Series as a member of one of the most-storied college baseball program of all time, to being paid to play baseball as a member of the Everett AquaSox.

“It’s been an unreal experience,” Hudson said, reflecting on what’s been a whirlwind period of his life.

Hudson, a slick-fielding infielder from Redlands, Calif., has been with the AquaSox for little more than a week, joining the team during it’s recent road trip to Boise. His defensive acumen, primarily at shortstop, has done wonders for shoring up the left side of Everett’s infield, which struggled at the start of the season.

“He brings a lot of energy to the club,” Everett manager Pedro Grifol said. “He’s a scrappy player and we’re happy to have him.”

But a mere two weeks before joining the AquaSox, Hudson was in Omaha, Neb., busy playing second base for the College World Series-champion Texas Longhorns.

Winning the title was sweet revenge for the Longhorns, who finished as runners-up to Cal State-Fullerton the previous year.

“When we lost it (in 2004) we had a sour taste in our mouths,” Hudson said. “Once the season got started we were worried about the league first. But right after we got into the playoffs we had one goal, and that was to win the national championship.

“We kind of took a hard road because in the regionals and super regionals we lost and were in the losers bracket,” Hudson continued. “But we came right back out knowing we had a bunch of seniors on the team and wanted to go out winners.”

And that’s exactly what the Longhorns did. Texas finished a perfect 5-0 in Omaha, and the Longhorns swept Florida in the best-of-three championship series, winning 4-2 and 6-2. The championship was Texas’ sixth in school history.

Hudson had a modest series at the plate, going 3-for-18. However, he helped Texas put on an impressive defensive display, fielding 18 errorless chances. As a team, Texas made just two errors in five games.

“I think we played as well as we could because a lot of people contributed,” Hudson said. “That was the way it was the whole season, everybody played roles and guys who weren’t stepping up at certain times were stepping up at the end. Our defense was awesome, just like it was all year, and then our bats picked up definitely in Omaha.”

Hudson finished with a successful career at Texas. Transferring in after spending two seasons at Riverside (Calif.) Community College, he batted .287 as a junior, when he played shortstop, and .272 this season as a second baseman. He also compiled strong defensive statistics, fielding .962 as a junior and .986 as a senior.

Plus, he can say he did it for Texas.

“I always liked Texas,” Hudson said. “I got to see them when they won the championship in 2002, so it was definitely a dream of mine to play for them. Texas has been just like the Yankees, they go to the College World Series every year. They’re the favorite every time they go in, so that’s going to be anybody’s dream to be on the favored team.”

Most importantly, playing at Texas gave Hudson two chances to experience the College World Series.

“The crowds are unreal,” Hudson said. “Then there’s the support Omaha gives you. The town is set up for the players. Everywhere we went we were supported by everybody, and because we’ve been there so much we’re kind of like the hometown favorites. The experience of being on that field with 26,000 people rooting you on is a unique experience because you don’t find it anywhere else until you get into the professionals.”

Hudson was expecting to be drafted in the later rounds of the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft in June. However, an agreement with the Colorado Rockies fell through. He was then planning on signing as a free agent with the Rockies, but when negotiations bogged down, the Mariners stepped in and signed him.

It was a fitting moment, considering his father, Bob, was drafted by the Mariners 25 years earlier.

“I was really excited when he signed with the Mariners,” said Bob Hudson, a right-handed pitcher who was a third-round selection in 1980 and reached as high as Class AAA in the Mariners organization. “I thought of how he was getting the same chance I got 25 years earlier.”

Said Rob Hudson: “It got joked around, keeping it in the family the way the Mariners kept both Hudsons. So it worked out well and my dad’s happy.”

And Rob Hudson’s baseball dreams just keep rolling along.

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