TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The baseball team at Jesuit High School had hoped for back to back state championships before the coronavirus pandemic forced a premature end to the season.
Henry Politz, a senior on that team, decided to make the most of his time at home enhancing his skills as an athlete and as an entertainer.
“How do you have a mechanical human being? Ohh, it is a machine.”
Politz questioned the essence of the pitching machine attached to the batting cage in his backyard but he did it with a recognizable twist.
His voice sounded like the voice of Jon Gruden, who captioned the ship for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for seven seasons. Gruden is currently the head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. Politz claimed he was “freestyling” with his impersonations but, if you heard him, you would have thought Gruden was standing at the plate with a baseball bat in his hands.
Suddenly, Gruden is sitting in the dugout and Phil Jackson, who coached Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls from 1989 to 1998, is swinging for the fences.
Politz spoke like Jackson spoke and, in that calm tone, he encouraged Jordan to “relax.”
You can physically see Politz relax when the spotlight shines on him, when he is entertaining a crowd with either his comedic acts or his athletic abilities.
“Baseball is something I have become good at through hard work but entertainment is the most natural, pure gift that I have,” he said.
He noticed it for the first time four years ago at his eight grade graduation. He delivered a speech and, when he finished it 20 minutes later, he received a standing ovation.
Politz said his principal, Scott D. Laird, was the first person to help him develop his public speaking abilities. He also added Mr. Laird still watches his videos so he can provide him with feedback.
“Senior year, this year, kind of similar to eighth grade,” Politz said, “you are king of the hill, same thing senior in high school, so right off the bat I entered the JTNN program.”
The communications class at Jesuit High School suited Politz. He actually called the football games in the fall and, while in quarantine, he started interviewing fellow athletes and posting the segments on YouTube.
“I do not really fit the jock stereotype because I am not really a tough guy. I am a big teddy bear,” he said with a laugh.
He might have the element of surprise on his side. Politz, who was primarily the designated hitter for the Tigers as a junior and as senior, hit .526 with 13 RBIs in nine games this season. He had the second highest batting average in the entire district.
“Basically, what I would do is go up, hopefully get a hit and drive in some runs and come back to the dugout and crack jokes for two or three innings and kind of mess around and keep the energy up and keep it fun in there and, then, do it all over again,” said Politz.
The Tigers finished the shortened season at the top of countless lists as the best high school baseball team in the country. They remained undefeated after nine games.
“Myself and a lot of others believe we would have won the state championship,” said Politz. “We were so talented. It stunk but I have gotten over it. I am kind of looking ahead to just trying to be productive during this time and looking ahead to college.”
He will continue his baseball career at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, where, undoubtedly, he will continue to put on a show.
“I want to continue to entertain people along with developing my baseball career” he said, “because, best case scenario, I would like to play pro ball. It has always been my dream to make it to the major leagues but, in the event that that does not happen, I want to still be developing my entertainment skills so that I can have job opportunities as, maybe, a news anchor similar to yourself doing these interviews in sports or whatever it may be. I do not want this to be a three month stint and, then, have it go away. I want to continue to develop these things.”
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