Josh Vidales is more intimidating in person than the 5’8″ listed on his stat sheet. In his divide between first and third, the second baseman tends to seem the perfect hybrid of Gazelle and Olympic gymnast.
Vidales, the young man with the glove of gold who has started every game since 2013, makes the delicate but maddening nature of baseball, hitting and fielding look frequently easy. His tumblings on defense and his disciplined slashings at the plate have led him to be a star in scarlet for UH.
“The game doesn’t owe you anything,” said Vidales. “You just have to go out and earn it. Throughout the streak, everyone talked about it, (but) honestly I wasn’t thinking about anything at the plate. It was see ball, hit ball.”
The Streak, already a latter day fable in UH baseball lore, involved 33 consecutive games where Vidales, by any means available, got on base.
“You end up just staying in the present moment. It’s good to bring support for the team and not just myself,” Vidales said.
Coach Todd Whitting saw in the performance the baseball deities rewarding a player for dedication.
“His work ethic has been tremendous,” Whitting said. “I tell him all the time that you get what you deserve, and he deserves success because he’s worked so hard.”
Through three years at UH, Vidales’ work ethic has been frequently noted, making his streak and over .320 batting average seem more based in reality than the airy realms of baseball grandeur.
“I think he’s the epitome of a guy that works hard. Every rep in practice he takes is with an intent,” Whitting said. “With practice it can be an activity or an accomplishment. It’s not just physical activity when he’s out there. He’s trying to learn and get better with every rep he takes.”
For his part, Vidales held up his 30-odd game gift to baseball as a workman-like affair.
“I felt like once I got on base, I had contributed to the team and helped us get where we needed to go,” Vidales said. “You leave every aspect of the outside environment outside. Leave your phone in the cubby, and go about your business between the lines.”
The process of tuning it all out and reaching a mental nirvana didn’t come easy.
“I was pretty stubborn as a freshman and sophomore,” joked Vidales. “I think it took two years.”
Vidales’s teammates, who had the best seat in the house to witness the Streak, were left impressed.
“It was awesome,” said pitcher Andrew Lantrip. “The guy just found ways to get on base. He would grind out at-bats and that’ll frustrate a pitcher to where he’ll eventually make a mistake. That’s how you play baseball.”