FLORENCE, KY. - Former Fredonia State catcher Brian Sheehan recently signed a contract to play professional baseball for the Florence Freedom of the independent Frontier League. The Freedom added Sheehan for their playoff push.
Sheehan made his professional debut Wednesday night in a 5-4 victory over the Windy City Thunderbolts as the team's starting catcher. He recorded a sacrifice bunt and lineout in his two plate appearances.
Sheehan, who graduated in May, was named all conference and led the SUNYAC in on-base percentage (.482). He was among the league leaders in hits, walks and hit-by pitches, and caught nearly every game for the Devils.
Photo Courtesy of SUNY Fredonia Athletics
Pictured above, at left, is former Fredonia State baseball player Rob Herrmann during the summer of 2012 as a professional in Australia. At right is Brian Sheehan, a 2013 graduate of SUNY Fredonia, who made his professional debut with the Florence Freedom of the Frontier League on Wednesday evening.
"As the only catcher on our roster last season, we asked a lot of Brian, and he was the key to our success," said Fredonia State head coach Matt Palisin. "Brian was asked to catch three games every weekend, as well as a number of doubleheaders. He was our most consistent hitter all season and was constantly on base despite the rigors of catching."
Sheehan follows in the footsteps of Rob Herrmann, the Devils' catcher prior to Sheehan. Herrmann played professionally in Australia and the United States, and is currently playing in Germany.
"Brian came in as a freshman as Rob's backup," Palisin said. "Brian had the smooth swing and great arm and did a great job for us in his four seasons."
Sheehan received a congratulations from Herrmann. "Rob told me it's still baseball and not anything more," said Sheehan. "Don't be shy and work to improve."
Sheehan has quickly taken to the experience.
"It's different baseball," he said. "Here it's baseball eight hours a day. I'm really enjoying it."
Sheehan was signed by Fran Riordan, a Canisius High School grad (1993), and the winningest manager in the Frontier League's history.
"It's great to see both of those guys pursuing their goals," said Palisin. "Rob was the type of player that always showed the younger guys how it's done, and has set a great example for Brian."
This summer, Herrmann was selected to play in the Bundesliga All Star Game representing the Paderborn Untouchables. The Untouchables open the post season this weekend with a five-game set against Heidenheim.
Herrmann also participated in the European Cup Tournament in Barcelona, Spain, where the team played in the Olympic Stadium.
"All of the teams in the bracket are the best in Europe," Herrmann said. "Two from every top country make it in, so we were fortunate enough to play the two best teams in all of Europe."
He also played for the EU International Stars for a tournament in the Czech Republic called Prague Baseball Week.
"The tournament was amazing and our team of misfit American import players won it all in the end," Herrmann noted. "We beat both the German and the Czech (World Baseball Classic) teams to win the championship."
Herrmann was a four-time All SUNYAC selection for the Devils and is among the career leaders in nearly every offensive category.