Every time a local professional baseball player travels, he takes with him a duffel bag of books.
On the bus, in the hotel, while he waits, wherever he is, Brian Garman reads.
“I spend a lot of time in a book,” said the 2006 Wapakoneta High School graduate, who pitched last season for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, a minor league baseball team affiliated with the Milwaukee Brewers.
He visited Chris Talowsky’s second-grade class at Wapakoneta Elementary School on Thursday to read a couple books to them and talk to them about the importance of reading.
“I was never the best reader at your age, but I practiced, just like I did with baseball, and I got better at it,” Garman said as he sat in a rocking chair with the students gathered around him on the floor.
He reminded the students that with practice all dreams are possible. He grew up in Wapakoneta just like them and started playing T-ball when he was 3 on the PT Works team, just like some of them might have.
Garman, 23, is part of a variety of readers visiting Talowsky’s classroom to demonstrate the importance of reading to students and to show them that it will be necessary no matter what they do and where they go in life.
“I want them to see the importance of reading in every job, to see that it does make a difference no matter what they do,” Talowsky said.
She said for many of the girls, who love reading, it isn’t as much of a challenge, but she wanted to reach out to the boys in her class with something to which they could relate.
For Garman’s visit, he read a comical tale about “The Book That Eats People,” but also a more serious book called “A Frog Thing,” with a message that everyone can’t be good at everything, but they can all be good at something.
Garman, who leaves to start training for his third season with the Timber Rattlers on Monday, talked to students about how reading was an integral part of his studies at Wapakoneta High School and even more so at the University of Cincinnati where he studied criminal justice.
“I thought maybe after college I would be reading a little less, but I’m reading more now than I ever did,” Garman said.
He reads books on sports psychology so he will know how to use his brain as a weapon against his opponent on the field and he reads baseball stories and books about past players.
“All the guys I read about were one day in my shoes, in the minors trying to get to the top,” Garman said. “Everyone’s interpretation of that is different and I like reading and learning about them.”
Every time the Timber Rattlers traveled to a new town, Garman and a friend on the team headed out to find the nearest book store, where they would just sit and read pages and pages and buy what new books they could afford.
“I read a lot more than I thought I would,” Garman said. “It’s a great thing. I’m excited to open my next book.
“It opens new doors every day,” he said. “Hopefully, it’s something you will learn to love.”
Quoting the actor Will Smith, Garman said if they are reading there will never be a problem they experience that someone else didn’t write an answer of how to solve.
When asked if he himself might one day write a book, Garman responded, “absolutely.” He has several pages of ideas he would like to talk about typed up already.
Garman’s spent his off season substitute teaching in the district and said he plans to continue to work with youth, even beyond an annual pitching camp he runs in his hometown.
“I will coach when my career is over,” Garman said. “Hopefully, that is not for another 15 years, but I want to pass on the game and have some sort of impact, to teach young people the game.”
He told the students he played football and golf and bowled growing up and now plays some tennis and fishes, in addition to baseball. He tried it all before finding his niche as a left-handed pitcher in college.
“It’s what I like the most, that one-on-one competition,” Garman said.