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SOAC Product Brings Local Pride Playing in World Series

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Shrub Oak Athletic Club President Steve Rosen said there was no doubt that at an early age there was something special about Joe Panik.

Panik, 23, a rookie starting second baseman for the San Francisco Giants, who are representing the National League in the World Series against the Kansas City Royals, started his baseball career in the SOAC at about five years old.

Of the thousands of kids over the years who have put on a uniform in the SOAC, Rosen said Panik is the first to make it to the Major Leagues.

“Dreams do come true,” said Rosen, who has led the SOAC for the last 13 years and has been involved with the organization for about 40 years. “He was the best athlete to ever come through here that I have seen, no doubt.”

Panik played shortstop and pitched during his time in the SOAC, which he was a member of until he was 10 when his family moved from Mohegan Lake to Hopewell Junction. He also was a solid basketball player.

“He was a hard worker. He never talked about it (being a Major League Baseball player) but he was determined to be a good player,” Rosen said. “He was quick. He made contact with the ball. He’s got a sweet swing. He was always the first kid drafted. Everybody wanted him on their team.”

At John Jay High School as a senior, Panik set three Class AA state records in hits, runs and doubles. He went on to star at St. John’s, hitting .370 for his career, which ranks him second in the history of the university. He was selected 29th in the 2011draft by the Giants and was called up this June.

In 73 games with the Giants, Panik hit .305 and finished second in on-base percentage among rookies. He has had many key hits in the playoffs, including a home run in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series.

Rosen is rooting hard for Panik and the Giants and made a bold prediction about his potential for a long career.

“He could be the next Jeter,” Rosen said, comparing Panik to legendary New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. “He could get 2,500 hits. He’s a cool customer.”



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