Baseball: Taft’s Ray Cekus eyes City TitleEdison Park, 4/1/10 Taft - Steinmetz boys baseball Taft's Ray Cekus fires the ball off to first base against Steinmetz. Joel Lerner/Staff Photographer Taft baseball vs Steinmetz. Need Taft players only. Shoot starting pitcher among others.
Updated: April 23, 2012 5:35PM
By his own admission, Ray Cekus is not the flashiest player on the field. The Taft senior is more of a throwback player who demonstrates a blue-collar mentality and whose favorite players come from days of yore.
‘‘He’s a baseball kid,’’ Taft coach Rich Pildes said. ‘‘He’s like a gym rat is in basketball. He wants to be on the field all the time and he works at the game.’’
In his fourth year on varsity, Cekus has helped lead the Eagles to an 18-1 start (the lone loss coming in a game he missed after taking a ball to the face in warmups) while playing first base and batting third in the order. He isn’t your typical three-hitter. He is more of a line-drive hitter who is called upon to play small ball frequently.
‘‘I’m not the most smooth or skilled athlete out there,’’ Cekus said. ‘‘I don’t believe you play for the flash. I believe you play for your guys. Like us, we’re doing real good because we play for each other.’’
Cekus’ hard-nosed approach to the game can be found in his roots. His father, John, is an auto mechanic who taught him the game early on. His grandfather, Louie, played on military teams in the Far East during the Korean War and has helped by regaling him with tales of baseball’s legendary players.
‘‘I appreciate the old-school game more,’’ Cekus said. ‘‘My grandfather told me stories about Ted Williams and Pete Rose. They went hard all the time and they played their rear-ends off. They always wanted to win. That’s how I feel that I am.’’
Cekus’ old-school approach has worked well so far. He is batting .520 with a pair of home runs and 32 RBI. His main goal is to give Taft its first city championship since 1958.
‘‘I’ve always wanted to get a city championship for Taft,’’ Cekus said. ‘‘I want to win conference (Jackie Robinson North) and then I want to go as far as I possibly can in city. Our goal is always to win city. All the guys on this team know that.’’
During his tenure, Cekus helped the Eagles win their first regional and a reach the city final four as a freshman, then helped them to a second-place finish in the city as a sophomore. As a senior, he is considered one of the team’s leaders.
‘‘To be honest, I don’t designate anyone a captain,’’ Pildes said. ‘‘But if someone wants to take a leadership role that would be evident and he has been. He is what we would like that to be.’’
Cekus considers himself a movie fanatic, especially of baseball movies. He counts Bull Durham as his favorite film.
In the summer, he plays on the Norwood Blues for Pildes.
‘‘Coach Pildes has become a big part of the player that I’ve become,’’ Cekus said. ‘‘He’s been a huge part of my learning and he’s really taught me to be a student of the game and to learn more [about] the game than to just to play the game.’’