Justin Fox Never Stops Dreaming
WASHINGTON, Pa. – Many little boys dream of playing professional baseball.
Justin Fox was no different.
As a youngster growing up in New Martinsville, Fox toiled on the diamonds preparing himself for what he hoped would be a career in the big leagues.
It’s a place many aspire to reach, but few get to.
Fox never gave up. And while he’s yet to reach his goal, the 24-year-old isn’t giving in on his dream.
One of the most-accomplished athletes to walk the halls of Magnolia High School, Fox, the 2010 Kennedy Award winner as the Mountain State’s top grid performer, is spending 2016 as a member of the Washington Wild Things.
It’s not the major leagues. But for Fox, it could be his ticket to getting there.
”Hopefully, it won’t be too long until I get picked up,” he said a few weeks ago prior to the Washington’s Frontier League East Division showdown against Joliet at Consol Energy Park.
”People tell me to keep riding this out, keep playing.”
And that’s what Fox plans to do.
”I’m hoping to become an every day player here,” he said. ”I’d like for us to win a championship and then, hopefully, get picked up to play some affiliated ball.”
A key cog in West Virginia University’s baseball program for four years, Fox is finding life in independent baseball a bit different.
”You have to enjoy it to play at this level,” he said. ”It’s a grind. It’s not bad at all, but it’s not steak dinners every night and getting paid the big bucks.”
But, it’s baseball. And as many who’ve played the game competitively for a long time will admit, it’s tough to walk away, especially when they believe they have plenty left in the tank.
And Fox believes he does.
”I’m not really the starting guy right now,” he said. ”I’ve been kind of getting playing time here and there. But the team’s doing pretty well. It’s a fun team to play on.”
Fox started only his 10th game of the season when the Wild Things took the field against the Slammers for their 29th outing – batting last in the Washington lineup. The second baseman, through Thursday, has played in 12 games this season.
While many players might be discouraged by a lack of playing time, Fox looks at his situation as an opportunity to learn and improve.
”You just have to keep a positive mindset,” he said. ”You have to be ready to play each time you’re called upon. You have to play your best whenever you’re called up.”
Staying mentally tough is the key.
”Being off the field helps you pick up things you wouldn’t really notice when you’re playing,” he said. ”But, other than that, I’ve always just been a ballplayer.
”(Not playing a lot) wears on you now and then, but you just have to stay mentally tough and be ready to play.”
After his career as a Mountaineer ended, Fox hooked up with the Frontier League’s Rockford Aviators in 2015. After that organization folded, Fox was left looking for another avenue to continue his career.
”Washington called me,” he said. ”And it worked out pretty good.”
Fox enjoys being close to home and being able to have his friends and family attend games. Fox’s parents, Jeff and Jill, were in attendance Thursday.
”It’s just more relaxed,” Fox said of the Frontier League atmosphere. ”The days are just longer. It’s better because you don’t have schoolwork on top of playing. It’s your job. I like it a lot better.”
As it stands, Fox said he’s healthy, enjoying himself and remains hopeful that playing in the Frontier League will expose his talents to affiliated teams across the country.
For him, playing baseball is a fire that still burns brightly inside him.
”I just enjoy myself each time out.”