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Eric Peterson, Published July 14 2013

F-M's Brachold fitting in at first base

Fargo - Keith Brachold idolized another Keith in his formative baseball years: New York Mets first baseman Keith Hernandez.

Even though he grew up near Fenway Park – home of the Boston Red Sox – Brachold was a Mets fan in his youth and played first base. So it was natural for Brachold to admire the slick-fielding Hernandez, who won 11 Gold Gloves with the Mets.

“I always thought defense for a first baseman was always an overlooked thing or an underrated thing,” Brachold said. “Teams had a hard time bunting when he was out there. His instincts were so great.”

Brachold, 30, is back to being a full-time first baseman. He played most games in the outfield his past few pro seasons.

“He has played a great first base for us,” said RedHawks shortstop Zach Penprase.

The RedHawks return to Newman Outdoor Field tonight. They host the Sioux Falls Canaries at 7:02 p.m., starting a three-game American Association series.

The left-handed swinging Brachold has been one of the top power threats for the RedHawks to go along with his solid defense. He ranks second on the team with nine home runs through 53 games.

The RedHawks expected Brachold – acquired in the offseason – to be a power bat. He cracked 29 home runs in 99 games a season ago, playing for Rockland in the Can-Am League.

“He’s dangerous in our ballpark and he has his days,” RedHawks manager Doug Simunic said.

While Brachold lived closer to Fenway Park than Shea Stadium growing up, he became a Mets fan like his father, Rich Brachold, who is from New Jersey.

“I spent more time for some reason driving out to watch games at Shea Stadium than I did Fenway Park,” Brachold said. “I grew up watching the 1986 (World Series) highlight reel when the Mets beat the Red Sox; devastating to Red Sox fans.”

Rich Brachold, who went to the University of Maine, was an accomplished ski racer, Keith said.

Brachold credits his dad for his competitive edge and work ethic. Those are part of the intangibles that have made Brachold a valuable player in his first season with the RedHawks.

“He is probably the best locker room guy I have ever been around,” said Penprase.

Brachold has bounced back from offseason hip surgery, which he had done in early December. The procedure carried a four-to-six month recovery. Brachold said the toughest part of the recovery was he had to be on crutches for six weeks after the surgery.

“I wanted to start feeling that I was moving in some positive direction,” said Brachold.

Brachold’s left hip hasn’t been an issue to this point in the season. He’s stole six bases in seven attempts.

“It has been getting stronger as the season goes which is a good sign,” Brachold said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found

at peterson.areavoices.com