Baseball: Simeon’s Corey Ray plays in all-star game, wants to be ambassador of the sport

Story Image Corey Ray sprints to first base after a solid hit in the Under Armour All-America Game. | Patrick Gleason ~ For Sun-Times Media
Story Image

Updated: August 22, 2012 10:08AM

Corey Ray enjoys the perks that come with being an elite high school athlete.

In the days leading up to Saturday’s Under Armour All-Star Game at Wrigley Field, Ray got the chance to show off his skills to pro baseball scouts in a workout and he was treated to Dave and Buster’s.

But the coolest part of the experience for the Simeon senior outfielder? Just walking through the gates into the National League’s oldest ballpark and soaking up some baseball history.

“This is my first time ever [at Wrigley],” Ray said before Saturday’s game, which featured prospects from 19 states, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. “I like the Cubs, but I’ve never come to any games. I can’t wait to get on the field and play the game in front of all the fans that have come to support me.”

Ray started for the National Team and was 0-for-3 in a 7-6 loss to the Americans. But the results mattered less than the chance to add another memory to a career that had a rather humble start around a dozen years ago.

“When I was younger, my dad’s friend needed a child to play left field,” Ray said. “I loved it so much I never stopped playing.”

Now he’s one of the state’s top prospects in the Class of 2013, rated No. 4 by Prep Baseball Report magazine and committed to defending Big East regular-season champ Louisville.

The idea that any of this was possible was planted in Ray’s head when he arrived at Simeon.

“Coming into my freshman year, my coach — he really pushed me,” the 5-foot-10, 165-pounder said. “He told me if I worked hard, I could make a lot of money playing this game. I want to make a lot of money, so that’s what I do — work hard.”

He works not just to further his own career, but to be an ambassador for a game that could use a few in Chicago.

“Baseball is a lost cause in the inner city, it really is,” Ray said. “When I see someone young who has some talent in baseball, I try to push them, teach them — try to show them this is a really fun game.”

The fun doesn’t come without effort, though. Saturday’s game was the last major event on Ray’s calendar for the summer, meaning it’s time to start getting ready for next season.

“I don’t feel like I’m good enough at anything,” he said. “I’m going to work on everything this winter. ... I’m going to start doing yoga, I’m going to start lifting, doing a lot of sprints, arm work.”

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