By Jim Lane
CURVE, Pa. – The Curve’s 2015 season began with Dan Gamache on the bench. Once he got into the lineup, he managed only three hits in his first 39 at-bats. However, when the hits started falling, Gamache’s average climbed quickly, and didn’t stop.
By July 31, Gamache’s average was .335 – one of the best in the Eastern League – and the Pirates rewarded the young infielder with a promotion to Class AAA Indianapolis. Gamache’s final numbers with the Curve included a .335 average, five homers and 74 RBIs in 74 games.
Despite not having a starting position when the season began, Gamache did not worry.
“You’ve got to control what you can control so you’ve got to work your butt off,” Gamache said before his promotion. “Sure, it was disappointing but I just kept my head down and kept working.
“If you keep believing in yourself, good things will happen.”
And, good things happened for Gamache.
His average had climbed to .315 on July 15 and he was one of five Curve players selected for the Eastern League’s All-Star Game in Portland, Maine. He made his mark in the All-Star festivities by winning the Home Run Derby.
“That was really exciting because it was in my neck of the woods,” Gamache, a Rhode Island native, said of the All-Star Game. “A lot of my family and friends were there.”
Gamache said the Home Run Derby was similar to the old Major League event with 10 outs in the first round and four players advancing to the second round. The second round featured five outs and the top two players advanced to the finals where Gamache came out on top.
Gamache’s showing was a bit surprising since the most homers he ever hit in a season was 6 with the Curve in 2014.
“I’ve always tried to drive the ball to gaps and try for extra bases,” he said. “However, I always knew I could hit for power.”
Even though he played high school baseball in Rhode Island, Gamache went to Auburn as a preferred walk-on, eventually earning a scholarship as a junior.
“I was offered some scholarships by small Division I schools in the Northeast,” he said, “but I wanted to go south and play year-round.”
It paid off for Gamache, who was drafted by the Pirates in the sixth round after his junior season at Auburn.
“When I signed, I had a broken hand and went to Bradenton to rehab for a month,” he recalled. “I played a couple games in the Gulf Coast League and then went to (short season) State College for about 20 games.”
Gamache was in low-A West Virginia in 2012 where he had a solid first full season of pro ball. He was promoted to high-A Bradenton in 2013 and played in 133 games.
“Bradenton was more challenging because it was so hot,” Gamache said. “But, it makes you tougher and you get better in learning how to play a full season.”
Gamache suffered a broken foot in spring training in 2014 when he fouled a ball off his foot. He was idle for 10 weeks and was limited to riding a bike and pool work. After short rehabs in the GCL and Jamestown, he came to Altoona where he played in 39 games with a .275 average and six homers. He went to the Arizona Fall League following the Eastern League season.
“(Arizona) was pretty exciting,” Gamache said, “because there was a lot of talent there. There were guys who were on their way to the big leagues.”
Former Curve teammates Josh Bell, Tyler Glasnow, Angel Sanchez and Elias Diaz were among Pirate prospects who also played in Arizona last fall.
Growing up in New England, Gamache was a Red Sox fan as a youngster. He also was a fan of the Celtics (NBA) and Bruins (NHL).
“Actually, I was a huge hockey fan when I was young,” he said. “I played hockey until high school and did well but baseball was my thing and it’s paid off for me.”
Now in Indianapolis, Gamache is only one step away from achieving his lifelong dream of playing major league baseball.