HOPKINS, Minn. - One of the most important decisions of Ryan Bollinger's life was made in a Caribou Coffee shop in Hopkins, Minn.
It was there on Sunday afternoon that the Minot Vistas left-hander signed a seven-year contract to play baseball for the Philadelphia Phillies Major League Baseball organization.
Bollinger was presented with the initial offer by a Phillies regional scout at a hotel Saturday in Wahpeton, where he was staying with the Vistas during the American Legion Baseball Class A State Tournament.
Minot Vistas’ Ryan Bollinger makes contact in a Class A American Legion baseball game against Mandan in this July file photo taken at Corbett Field.
Bollinger talked it over with his family, Vistas coaches Todd Larson and Andy Lach and others before coming to the decision to forgo college at Iowa Western University in the fall for an immediate shot at a lifelong dream.
"It was a tough decision to choose between that and school, but it is my chance to do what I always wanted to do," Bollinger said. "My family and I came to a decision that that's what I want to do and that's what I need to do. I'm going to work hard to get where I've always wanted to be."
Bollinger is currently staying with his family in Hopkins and will leave for Clearwater, Fla., via Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport Thursday morning. There he will meet up with the Gulf Coast League Phillies, a rookie-level Phillies affiliate with which he will begin to fulfill his contract, which provides $1,100 a month, a place to stay, food and equipment. It also includes a signing bonus that Bollinger was not certain he could divulge.
After the conclusion of the Gulf Coast League season, Bollinger will report back to Florida for the Instructional League before returning home to prepare for spring training.
"I am going to be nervous to get out there with these guys that I've never seen before, but I'm excited to start playing professional baseball," Bollinger said. "It's always what I've wanted to do and now I get a chance to do it."
Bollinger, who was drafted as a first baseman in the first-year players draft by the Phillies, said he will play at first base with the GCL Phillies and that he might be moved into the outfield in order to get more at-bats.
"They said if I'm not hitting or progressing at hitting they would move me to the mound to pitch," added Bollinger.
Bollinger, who began playing for the Minot Vistas American Legion Baseball team as a 15-year-old, is the Vistas' all-time leader in innings pitched, strikeouts and wins. He is second all-time in career hits, doubles, and runs batted in.
He hopes to continue his success with the GCL Phillies.
"All I did was just hope that someday it would happen. Luckily it did and now I'm going to give it all I have," he said.