Tonawanda News — Ricky Brooks, perhaps the most decorated baseball player in North Tonawanda Lumberjacks history, announced his retirement from baseball after an eight-year professional career which saw him reach as far as AAA Colorado Springs last season.
“I haven’t gotten any calls,’ Brooks said. “With everything going on in my life, I knew it was time to start something new.”
Brooks, 28, signed with the Chicago White Sox following his sophomore season at East Carolina University after being drafted in the third ground of the 2003 draft. The White Sox drafted him in the 11th round of the 2005 draft, but he opted to attend East Carolina instead.
Brooks was as decorated as he was successful at North Tonawanda High School. In his senior season, he was on teams that won the sectional titles in football, hockey and baseball.
“He was the ultimate team player,” said John Chiarmonte, Brooks’ high school coach. “We had an extra-inning game against Niagara Falls and we were almost out of pitchers and he came up to me and said ‘I’m available if you need me’ and he had just pitched the day before. He always put the team first.”
“When you looked at Ricky, here was a kid that was always around winning teams,” said Chicago White Sox special assistant to the general manager Bill Scherrer, a Tonawanda native who spent seven seasons in the major leagues. “He was a rangy, athletic kid, and you knew once he grew into strength he was going to be someone you’d want to develop.”
With the Pirates, Brooks was an immediate starter, and in his second season, threw the first nine-inning no-hitter in Conference USA history. The only thing separating Brooks from a perfect game was a strikeout that got away from the catcher and allowed the batter to reach base. Brooks considers this the highlight of his career.