Buckner Ready For Next Level

Dream jobs are hard to come by, but one WVU baseball player has his and the opportunity of a lifetime.  Grant Buckner was selected by the Chicago White Sox in the 26th round of the 2011 Major League Baseball draft. 


“I always said it’s what I wanted to do, it’s my biggest dream ever. I’ve always said I wanted my first real job to be a professional baseball player,” said Buckner. “That’s my job now so, no more school, just work on baseball all the time. That’s a pretty cool feeling.”


Buckner was the 801st pick in this year’s draft and the second Mountaineer shortstop in as many years to be drafted by a major league team.


“I’ll be heading to the Appalachian League in Bristol, Virginia,” Buckner said.  “That is the next step.”


And with that assignment, he’ll be able to make return trips periodically to West Virginia.


“I play one series in Princeton and another series in Bluefield,” said Buckner. “That’s the type of country and terrain I’m used to.  That transition will be much easier for me.”


And with those games closer to home, it’ll give his family and friends a better chance to come see him play.


“Anytime you can play some games in your home state you’ll have some people there watching,” said Buckner.  “It’s going to make it that much sweeter for me.”


While the journey ahead for Buckner is full of opportunity, there’s also a lot he’s now leaving behind in Morgantown.  The Mountaineer shortstop finished his senior year leading West Virginia with a .364 batting average, capping off what was a memorable college career.


“I don’t even have words for it. Anytime you get a chance to play for a team you grew up rooting for and the whole state loves, that’s enough in itself,” he said.


Along with leading the team in batting average this past year, Buckner also led the way in runs, hits, homeruns and RBIs.  He also added 14 doubles, one triple, and 20 walks during his senior season.


“I’ll always be thankful for Coach Van Zant giving me that opportunity, because not a lot of people were willing to give me one at the division one level,” said Buckner.  “He gave me that chance and I’ll always be thankful for that.”


Buckner did not disappoint.  He also earned the conference batting title with a .437 batting average in conference play and led the league in hits and on-base percentage. He earned second place in runs scored, doubles, total bases, and slugging percentage as well.


“Think about the career I had, how many people I met, lifelong friends that I lived with, (I’m) going to remember all of those people,” he said.  “It was just the best four years of my life. I couldn’t describe it any better.”


The Elkview native ends his Mountaineer career with a variety of all-time records, including fourth in doubles, sixth in hits and seventh in extra-base hits.


And with his professional career still looming ahead, things may just be getting started.


“I really feel like I put in a ton of hard work and I’m starting to see a pay off somewhat,” he said. “In my mind the work’s just begun for me. I’ve got a lot more to do.”

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