Presented By South Jersey Sports Zone
Chase Conklin has grown accustomed to defying the odds.
The Trenton Generals shortstop has often been labeled as undersized.
It doesn’t bother him.
In fact, it proves to be his main source of motivation.
“I feel like it’s a mentality you have to accept,” Conklin said. “It doesn’t matter how much you weigh or how tall you are. It’s either you have it or you don’t.”
It’s safe to say that he definitely ‘has it.’
The Bishop Eustace graduate directed the Trenton Generals to their first Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League title since 2014 on August 8.
The University of Richmond infielder decided that wasn’t enough.
Four days later, Conklin etched his name into the ACBL history books by becoming the first player in team history to ever win the Santy Gallone MVP Award.
BREAKING NEWS – @chaseconk28 has been named the 2021 Santy Gallone Most Valuable Player of the @ACBLBaseball for his role in leading the Gens to their 2nd ACBL title in franchise history. More coverage on this coming soon. @SpiderBaseball pic.twitter.com/cwgIxY4L9O— Generals Baseball LLC (@2019Trenton) August 12, 2021
“It’s so special,” Conklin said. “MVP of any league is a big deal and being that this league is so competitive, it was special. I just went out there and did what I could to help my team get on top. After a rough year of COVID, to come out and show what I could still do was a huge proving point for me. I wanted to put my name in the record books and that’s what I did.”
For those that know the nifty shortstop, his recent success has come as no surprise.
Even those that were teammates with Conklin in high school and have since been selected in the MLB Draft knew that his rise would be inevitable.
“I believe that Chase winning the MVP Award is just a foreshadow for what’s to come in his baseball career,” Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Anthony Solometo said. “The kid is a special breed who desires greatness and does everything he can to achieve it. He’s a great leader and friend on and off the field and someone I knew from the very beginning. I expect many more accolades in his future.”
Conklin finished the season 20-for-38 with a .609 on-base percentage over his final 46 plate appearances. In those 46 appearances, Conklin drove in 16 runs and scored 11 times.
More impressively, the Mullica Hill, New Jersey native didn’t strike out one time in that final nine-game stretch.
“On a team full of great guys, Chase was the glue that brought everyone together,” Generals owner and general manager Mike Olshin said. “Like Chase Utley was with the Phillies in 2008, or Darren Daulton in 1993, or Pete Rose in 1980 — the guy who wouldn’t let them lose.”
Congrats to our guys @chaseconk28 and @winston__allen who earned MVP and Pitcher of the Year honors in the @ACBLBaseball!— Richmond Baseball (@SpiderBaseball) August 13, 2021
First time teammates from the same collegiate team have swept the awards!
Conklin batted .579 in the ACBL playoffs and scored five runs in the postseason for the Generals. The Bishop Eustace graduate also collected 11 runs batted in, two stolen bases and posted a 1.469 OPS in those five games.
More importantly, Conklin brought a championship mindset to the dugout day in and day out that rubbed off on his teammates.
“Chase is fond of saying, ‘walk like a king or like you don’t care who the king is,’” Olshin said. “He walks the talk. Combine that with everything else and you have the ultimate winner.”
The Generals’ owner/general manager just happened to be the latest to see Conklin’s leadership on full-display. Conklin’s high school coach, Sam Tropiano, knew all along that the 2021 ACBL MVP was the type of leader to demand the best out of those around him and see immediate results.
“He’s a coach on the field,” Tropiano said. “Chase has the talent to rise to the occasion, but what truly makes him great is his ability to make everyone around him better.”
Conklin’s work isn’t done just yet.
He’s determined to take his recent prosperity and translate it to the collegiate level over the next three seasons.
“I showed what I can do and it will translate throughout the years here at Richmond,” Conklin said. “ I’m just going to put my head down and grind for my last three years. It’s all a game and we have to play like we are kids again because we don’t have many more times left on the field.”
Cover Photo courtesy of Mike Olshin
South Jersey Sports Zone (SJSZ) was co-founded by Kevin Emmons in 2017. The brand covers high school sports and promotes South Jersey pride. If you’d like to keep up with SJSZ, find them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
(Photo Credit: Kevin Emmons)