Printed on: June 15, 2013

Younger Gretzky trades in skates for spikes

By DAVE SOUTHORN
Idaho Statesman

It's not a hockey stick, but it's fitting Trevor Gretzky has proven himself adept with a "stick" of another sort.

Gretzky, 20, is the third of five children of NHL all-time leading scorer Wayne Gretzky, but instead of scoring goals, he's scoring runs. The Boise Hawks first baseman/outfielder never really considered the ice -- the diamond was where he felt most comfortable.

"Growing up in Los Angeles, I think the nearest rink to my house was an hour away," Gretzky said. "I'd of course seen a ton of hockey, but when my dad played in New York, we saw a Yankee game and I was hooked on baseball."

Selected by the Chicago Cubs in the seventh round of the 2011 draft out of Oaks Christian (Calf.) High School, Gretzky signed with San Diego State before opting to go pro.

A baseball and football player in high school, he suffered a torn labrum early in his senior year as Oaks Christian's quarterback. Recent Oaks Christian quarterbacks include Jimmy Clausen, Nick Montana (Joe's son), and former Boise State receiver Chris Potter.

Gretzky did not play the summer after he was drafted, then spent last summer with the Cubs' Rookie League team in Arizona, hitting .304 with 10 RBIs in 35 games.

"He's still young, but he's taking some good steps offensively," Hawks manager Gary Van Tol said. "He's a driven kid, definitely can tell he's out there wanting to blaze his own path."

Of course, with that famous last name, Gretzky could certainly skate by for a short while. He pays a small tribute to his father, who famously wore No. 99, as the younger Gretzky sports No. 9 with the Hawks, but Trevor Gretzky has embraced the fact his name grabs attention wherever he goes.

"I can't complain about it, I take the good things with it -- he's been so supportive, never pushed me toward anything I didn't want to do, so I'm proud of it," he said.

While some hand-eye coordination may have been passed down genetically, Gretzky said the best thing he obtained from his father was his renowned work ethic -- something Mario Lemieux once credited for seeing firsthand with the Canadian national team early in his career, then applying it to become one of the game's all-time greats.

"Because he's grown up differently than most kids, I think he's seen what it's all about to be a professional, the work you need to put it, the responsibility, and I think he's able to use that to his advantage," Van Tol said.