Hook offers flexible choice


Sophomore infielder Tommy Hook throws out a baserunner during Saturday’s game against Toledo at Ralph McKinzie Field. Hook has been the Huskies’ top utility player throughout the season, playing at four positions.

By Brian Earle

In his two seasons as a Huskie, utility man Tommy Hook has been the definition of a versatile baseball player.

Hook came to NIU as a shortstop his freshman year but never ended up playing a game in that role. Instead, in the 47 games he played as a freshman, Hook played wherever he was needed.

He played at three positions, bouncing around from second base, making 12 appearances, to third base, where he saw most of his action, 27 times, and to left field, where he saw action seven times.

This year has been no different for Hook, who has taken on an even bigger workload. In 27 games played this season, Hook has appeared at four positions.

“He’s been big for us,” said coach Ed Mathey. “Versatility out of a guy who can be proficient at a few positions and brings a lot of energy, it’s great to have. He’s a willing guy when we talk to him about ‘Hey, try this, try that’ and he’s in on it.”

In the infield, Hook has played only at third base, making 20 appearances, while in the outfield he has played a combined four games as a left and right fielder.

The biggest difference this season for Hook has been his willingness to learn and play the catcher position. With the Huskies low on catchers due to injuries, Hook has stepped up and played four games behind the plate this season.

“The catcher position wasn’t really something that I’ve been doing my whole life,” Hook said. “Actually, I did it from when I was about 7 to 10 years old; since then I haven’t been back there. It’s been a relatively new position for me, but I like it and I like getting back there whenever I can.”

In his four games behind the plate, Hook has thrown out three baserunners attempting to steal a base while allowing four stolen bases. He has also allowed three passed balls on the season.

“There have been a few games where he’s had his hard lessons, but for the most part he’s done a pretty good job,” Mathey said. “He’s a flexible kid back there. He’s got some arm strength and he has some enthusiasm, and those things bode well for a catcher.”

Playing multiple positions can take a toll on some players, but Hook enjoys juggling the positions and practicing them every day.

“You’re moving around a lot,” Hook said. “You’re constantly going, you’re hitting; when we have outfield and infield breakdowns I’m usually doing defense with both on one day or I’m doing infield and catching one day. It’s really just a combination of stuff. It doesn’t really matter how many reps you get as long as you understand the game. I think that’s the biggest part of it.”

Hook has been successful at playing multiple positions over the last two seasons, which has given the Huskies options and flexibility when it comes to their lineups. Being able to play Hook at multiple positions allows other people to stay at positions where they perform the best and are most comfortable.