By Brad Schlossman, Published June 11 2009
Virgil Hill Jr. drafted in 6th round by CardinalsVirgil Hill, the son of North Dakota boxing legend Virgil Hill Sr., was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals during the sixth round of the Major League Baseball draft Wednesday.
Hill, who plays center field for Los Angeles Mission Community College, said he hopes to sign with the Cardinals this summer and start a professional baseball career.
“I’m feeling very good and very relieved,” said Hill, who grew up in California. “I was actually at the gym lifting weights when one of my good friends called me and told me that I got drafted. St. Louis is a great organization. They put out a lot of great players. They have a great farm system and a great development program.”
Hill hit .460 with 11 home runs, 49 RBIs and had 29 stolen bases as a sophomore for Los Angeles Mission. He was named an All-American and won a gold glove in his confer-ence.
“He hits for power, he hits for average,” Mission coach Joe Cascione said. “He’s a pretty special player, who works really hard. He does some outstanding things. He runs a 6.1 60-yard dash, which is world-class sprinter speed.”
He also has Division I college scholarship offers. If things don’t work out with St. Louis, he will play for the University of Southern California and go back into the draft.
Hill said he also was being recruited by UND.
“I was kind of torn about that, because my dad is a North Dakota guy,” Hill said.
Hill Sr., who went to elementary school at Ben Franklin in Grand Forks, has held both the WBA Light Heavyweight and WBA Cruiserweight belts during his career. He last fought in November 2007, when he gave up his WBA Cruiserweight title to Firat Arslan in a bout in Germany.
Hill Sr. currently lives on the East Coast. He has seen his son play a couple of times.
“Every time he’s come, I’ve hit a home run,” Hill Jr. said. “So, I guess he’s my good luck charm.”
The younger Hill’s mother, like his father, is an Olympic silver medalist. Denean Hill was part of the American 4x400 relay team that finished second in the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Virgil Sr. won silver in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics as a Middleweight.
Denean currently works as a sprint coach at College of the Canyons in Valencia, Calif., where Hill Jr. attended high school.
“He’s got pretty good genes,” Cascione said.
Hill said he didn’t even concentrate on baseball while in high school, because he had no idea he was a prospect. He originally was drafted after his senior year in the 28th round to the Florida Marlins.
“That was a shocker,” he said. “I played four sports in high school and after that I figured I would try to play baseball. There’s more longevity, not so much wear-and-tear on you. It worked out for the best.
Hill didn’t sign with the Marlins and went back into the draft. Last year, the Oakland A’s selected him in the 35th round. This year, he went much higher.
“He wants to play professional baseball,” Cascione said. “Hopefully, he can move up in that organization quickly. You can’t substitute speed, and that’s what he’s got.”
Reach Schlossman at (701) 780-1129; (800) 477-6572, ext. 129; or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.