Gametime CT – Zack Ramppen
The article below was written by Scott Ericson at Gametime CT. At BVSA we have had the privilege to watch Zack grow up into the person he is. We are excited for the community to read Zack’s story and understand what makes him tick! Thank you Scott and Gametime CT for this awesome write up. Zack, keep it up and good luck the rest of this season!!
The earliest memories Zack Ramppen has are frequent family trips to Japan to see his father Frank, who was an assistant coach for Bobby Valentine in the Japanese Professional League. There, Ramppen got to be around baseball on a daily basis and the seeds that would grow into an undeniable love of the game were planted.
“My family would travel to Japan all the time. My dad was basically living out there coaching with Bobby Valentine,” Ramppen said. “I was out there visiting from two-months old, my first plane ride, to six years old. I was always traveling back and forth and was at a baseball game probably every day.”
Ramppen credits those early days in Japan around the Chiba Lotte Marines managed by Valentine with Frank Ramppen serving as the infield/bench coach as crucial to his development.
“He and his brother grew up around the ballpark and had a ball and glove in their hands every day, they watched 1,000 games as little kids, were around someone who was involved with baseball his entire life and they called Bobby Valentine ‘Uncle Bob,’” Frank Ramppen said. “He watched so many games from the stands and that makes a big difference. So many kids play video games and don’t watch baseball games. I think watching baseball makes them become better baseball players. “
Ramppen picked up his batting stance and uniform number from Japan.
“When Zach was over there we had a catcher with a very unique stance and as soon as we put a bat in Zack’s hands, he emulated his stance. Zack is also a catcher because of him. It was a big influence on their lives,” Frank Ramppen said. “Coaches in Japan have to wear number 79 and above and I was 83. Zack wore 83 on any team that would possibly make that jersey. He always wore my number which is really cool.”
Unfortunately, New Canaan did not have a number 83 to issue Ramppen and he settled on No. 5.
Ramppen said he has never stopped learning from his father or ‘Uncle Bob.’
“My dad has made the biggest impact on my baseball career by far,” Ramppen said. “I grew up with him and Bobby Valentine. My dad is his right-hand man. They both helped me out and developed my game to a level I didn’t think I could get to.”
That level he has reached is a high one with room left to grow.
Ramppen was named as one of GameTimeCT’s 25 Players to Watch this preseason and early on, has been producing at an all-state level both offensively and defensively as a catcher.
He is throwing 82 mph down to second base with a pop time of 1.81, according to Prep Baseball Report.
The junior is hitting above .500 with two home runs through five games, helping New Canaan to a 3-2 record.
“He is our No. 3 hitter, he will be our No. 3 hitter all year and probably next year,” New Canaan coach Anthony Bloss said. “He gets good swings. No at bat is taken off, no at bat is sacrificed. He goes up there and he has a plan. We teach it and we practice it but most kids in certain counts don’t know what to do. Zack knows what to do. He has that all down.”
While he has been hot to start, Ramppen feels he has a ways to go to be where he would like to be at the plate.
“I am feeling good at bat right now,” he said. “Still having some tough at bats but hopefully I get into a hot streak soon. I am feeling good but hopefully can do a little better in the next couple of games.”
His offensive production alone would make people take notice, but he is even more valuable behind the plate, handling the pitching staff, blocking balls and throwing runners out on the bases.
“He is a field general. He’s incredible. Not only does he block every ball and have a great arm but he commands everything. He’s running the whole show. As a coach it makes life a lot easier knowing you have a kid like that behind the plate,” Bloss said. “Teams are starting to learn they may not want to run on him in certain spots. He has a very strong and accurate arm. He gets up and gets the ball out very quickly.”
“It changes the whole complexion of the game. Pitchers are less worried about guys running on them and can focus more on the batter. When you have a kid, not just with the arm, but the fact he blocks everything gives our pitchers so much more freedom with two strikes knowing he’s not going to let the ball get by him.”
By all accounts the New Canaan pitchers love him.
“You know he is going to catch everything and stop everything. That lets you be a little more experimental, especially with hitting your spots outside,” New Canaan senior pitcher Matt Balkun said. “With a runner on first I am more comfortable in taking a little longer with my windup knowing Zack is back there. You notice the difference. Going from pitchers and catchers week to having Zack catch for you all the time is a big difference. Your overall confidence in pitching goes up when he is catching for you.”
Ramppen made the varsity as a freshman in 2019, starting all 20 games though he played some third base because the Rams needed him there, before playing 12 games at catcher.
He was able to play a season with his brother, Frank IV, who was a junior in 2019.
Frank pitched a few games, getting to throw to his younger brother.
Zack stood out right away to coaches who knew he needed to be in the varsity lineup one way or another his first season.
His father is impressed with his skills, but it is the intangibles that stand out.
“Zack has all the tools. He has a great arm, his pop time is ridiculous and he can hit for power for a small guy. His baseball IQ is through the roof,” Frank Ramppen said. “You have to see him play. He plays the game the way it is meant to be played. I’ve never seen a spot too big for him.”
Since that first varsity season, Ramppen has continued to improve.
“Freshman year I was a little more conservative and was playing to get the job done and nothing more. Now I am stepping up and being able to make an impact,” Ramppen said. “I have always been a pretty good thrower. The place I worked the most on my game this offseason was blocking. If I can’t block then the man on first is getting to third in two pitches. I want to make sure they have faith in me that I can block a ball in the dirt, fastball, curveball, any pitch they throw so they can feel more comfortable throwing that pitch.”
And though his father helps run Bobby Valentine Sports Academy and Ramppen spent more time around coaches than most players, his father felt less was more when it came to Zack’s development.
“For Zack, he was at the academy every day, at all of his brothers practices and at his own practices,” Frank Ramppen said. “He got so much time in and so much extra work just being around the game. He has been so good his whole career, I have almost been afraid to give him advice because I don’t want him to overthink. He naturally does things that we teach.”
EPT Press Release
Brian Wolfe, Mike Guinta, Bobby Valentine and their respective teams are excited to announce a new collaboration. Evolution Physical Therapy (EPT) and Bobby Valentine’s Sports Academy (BVSA) are joining forces! EPT is now the official Physical Therapy program of BVSA’s 40,000 square foot indoor sports facility.
BVSA has been in Stamford for over 13 years and recently moved into its new facility located at 4 Largo Drive in Stamford, CT. The new BVSA building boasts 40 foot ceilings, an almost 16,000 square foot turf field, six batting cages, an arcade area, a weight room and a sporting goods store. On any given day, you can observe one-on-one baseball and softball instruction, team practice on the full field, lacrosse skill training and IQ development, soccer team/small group training, football practice for local high schools and even large scale community events that can host over 1000 guests.
EPT’s mission is to help all of their patients and clients perform at their highest potential, to completely redefine the profession of physical therapy and to provide the community with exceptional rehab services, fitness, performance training, injury prevention, wellness and recovery. Their doctors of physical therapy are highly skilled and knowledgeable, utilize modern equipment and techniques and have an unparalleled drive to help you get better.
EPT’s physical therapists use unique methods of manual therapy and ultramodern recovery systems to separate and elevate the process of diagnosis, the treatment of injury and the maintenance of a healthy lifestyle. In addition to a customized treatment plan, they offer massage, pilates, yoga and distinguished circuit classes taught by our therapists to integrate with physical therapy treatment, optimize and maintain health and prevent future injury.
EPT’s fitness center was founded and is facilitated by physical therapists who are highly skilled in biomechanical movement and exercise. Their personal trainers and instructors are very meticulous with proper form and technique in order to provide the most effective and efficient workout while being safe and eliminating the risk of injury. They offer a variety of group classes, personal training and sessions with state-of-the-art workout and recovery equipment.
“We are really excited for this partnership with Bobby Valentine’s Sports Academy. Partnering with BVSA is a no brainer to continue raising the bar in sports performance and injury prevention. Our goal is to redefine the profession of physical therapy by offering our services and becoming a resource to athletes and weekend warriors in the Stamford community.”
Frank Ramppen, BVSA’s managing partner, has this to say, “We are very excited to be joining forces with Evolution. Having such an outstanding PT group on site will add an entirely new dimension to what we offer our clients, allowing them to overcome obstacles and reach their goals. Together with BV Training Lab and Evolution we will work to develop a state of the art scientific training methodology focusing on arm-care, throwing velocity, and rotational acceleration.”
EPT will be joining a group of great organizations that have already made BVSA their home. Ramp3, Scouted Sports, BVT Lab, Abate Training, Instant Replay Sporting Goods, CT City Lax, JA Elite Soccer, First Glance Box Breaks, EB222 Dining/Catering and so many others are all under one roof with the same mission: to help as many of the next generation of student athletes, achieve their goals and more!
Sign up for the EPT mailing list to stay up to date on all upcoming programs!
Seventeen years ago today, a very quiet morning turned dark as the tragic news spread. At 8:46am the North Tower was hit and just seventeen minutes later the second tower was struck sending a mixture of emotions through every American’s being. Before an hour had passed since the first impact the Pentagon was hit and the fourth plane crashed into an open field. The horrific event now over, a feeling of sorrow sweeping the nation, and it was now time to start the restoration of a city brought to the brink of darkness.
Bobby Valentine, the then Mets’ manager expressed the same sentiment that many felt that day. “Fear, I think, was the first emotion, and sadness, and then a couple days later I think that anger started coming out. But the bus ride was surreal. That’s the easiest way to put it. It was something I hope I never have to do again, but it’s a lasting memory. I’m on that road often when I’m in New Jersey, coming back, and I always look at Manhattan at the exact same point that I looked at it in 2001, and the image lives on”, Valentine stated only days after the event. Valentine was the first Met to visit Ground Zero as he traveled down in a police cruiser that had alterations made to be able to carry down more supplies for first responders. When Bobby returned from the initial trip down he shared his experiences with the players and coaches.
Valentine said, “It had me experience fear at a level that I had never experienced, It had me experience anger at a level I never experienced and it had me experience sadness, again, at a level that I never had before. And then there was the confusion of what to do. And everyone in New York and the surrounding area, and I think a lot of the country, had that same dilemma. Do we go down to the recruitment center and sign up? Do we lock ourselves in our house? Do we lend a helping hand to those in need?” Even with the mix of these emotions Bobby lead the charge as the Mets helped in the relief efforts any way they could. Mets cleared debris and helped those in the surrounding area victimized by the tragedy. John Franco the Mets closer was quoted, “Bobby was a great leader, He had us out there, and even when we were done, he stood out there by himself helping everybody else, all the volunteers. It wasn’t something we were ordered to do, either. We wanted to do it, we wanted to help, and once a couple of us got the OK to go downtown, we went downtown — Bobby, John Stearns, myself, Al Leiter, Robin Ventura, Mike Piazza, Todd Zeile. We wanted to go down there just to thank the workers.” This lead to an unforgettable scene as the Mets and the first-responders exchanged hats and those hats served as symbol for the Mets who would go on and wear them the rest of the season.
Valentine’s relief efforts much like the first responders did not end on that day. As the Mets returned to action on the seventeenth, the restoration continued. Bobby reminisces on the days saying, “It was remarkable the way they were met, the workers there were working on fumes, going around the clock, and we know how desperate it was and how impossible it was, what they were trying to achieve.” Bobby would continue to give in anyway he could including adopting a family which he would help sparing no effort. Bobby took the Conroys in as if they were his own.
This is the man who we are fortunate enough to work for, the kind of person who will help you in whatever you need and never ask for a favor in return. He has an impulse to give as much as he can and continue to give without any expectation of a return. The horrific events only inspired him to give more and we should all use that as a reminder to do for others because it is the right thing to do. Bobby continues to lead by example through both the darkest and brightest of times. It is important to be thankful for his efforts and those of all the first responders who controlled their emotions and helped rebuild following the events back on 9/11.
There is a 90 minute special on ESPN tonight covering The Comeback Season at 7pm. Bobby highly recommends that everybody check this out if they can!