Ryan Sinclair isn’t old enough to remember Wade Boggs playing baseball. But when he saw a quote from Boggs’ 2005 Baseball Hall of Fame induction speech on a recent family trip to Cooperstown, the words struck such a chord that he submitted it for publication in the Hall-Dale High School yearbook.

“Our lives are not determined by what happens to us but how we react to what happens,” Boggs said, “not by what life brings us but the attitude we bring to life.”

Those words still resonate with Sinclair.

“I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason,” he said.

Sinclair credits that philosophy with helping him recover from a devastating knee injury near the end of his junior year and become the top player in the Mountain Valley Conference in 2016.

For his remarkable recovery and prolific senior season, Ryan Sinclair is the 2016 Kennebec Journal Baseball Player of the Year.

As a junior, Sinclair was well on his way to an all-conference season for the Bulldogs when he shattered his kneecap in a freak accident while fielding a ground ball in practice. He spent two months in a wheelchair, underwent two surgeries and battled through several weeks of intense physical therapy.

“It was tough knowing my season was over, but as the (Boggs) quote says, it’s about how you react to those situations,” he said.

He had been down this road before. When he was nine, he broke his wrist playing catch two days before the start of Little League season. That experience helped him put his second injury in perspective.

“I’d been there, on the sidelines missing the game I love,” he said. “But I bounced back my first game in Little League and I knew I could bounce back in high school.”

His father, Bob, who has coached him since farm league and is the Bulldogs’ varsity coach, played a vital role in his recovery after both injuries.

“I’ve broken many bones in baseball,” Ryan said, “and he’s always been there to make sure I got back on the right track.”

“He dedicated himself to coming back sooner than anyone would have predicted,” Bob Sinclair said.

Doctors told Ryan recovery could take up to six months, which meant he would miss out on soccer season. He made it back on the field in four months, and helped lead the Bulldogs to the regional semifinals.

Playing soccer helped make his leg and mind stronger. He decided not to play basketball so he could focus on getting ready for baseball season.

“I think all of the worrying (about the knee) got done by fall, and I just spent the winter building more and more confidence in myself and my knee and my body,” he said.

He hit the weight room and worked on refining his hitting and pitching while also starting up Hall-Dale’s unified basketball team.

By the time baseball season arrived, he was already in mid-season form. He batted over .800 in the preseason.

“That was very reassuring for the season coming up,” he said.

A four-year starter, Sinclair was the Bulldogs’ No. 1 starter on the mound, shortstop, and cleanup hitter,

Working with an improved change-up to go with a mid-80s fastball and sharp curve, he held opponents to a .154 batting average, striking out 66 and walking 19 while compiling a 1.88 ERA and 6-4 record.

His most effective adjustment came at the plate. Opponents regularly pitched the right-handed slugger away, hoping to neutralize his power and Hall-Dale’s short porch in left field. Sinclair still made them pay.

“He consistently hit the ball in the gap or over the right fielder’s head,” Bob Sinclair said. “That’s really where he found his success, hitting the ball to the opposite field.”

He hit .569, slugged .842 and finished with an OPS over 1.400.

Perhaps most impressive was his average with runners in scoring position — .680. He drove in 31 runs.

“I really like the pressure of being a senior on the team and being the No. 4 hitter and being the No. 1 guy (on the pitching staff),” Ryan said. “I like coming up when runners are on second and third and your teammates are expecting you to drive them in.”

“He had a new focus this year after missing a lot of his junior year,” Bob said. “He just worked so hard and wanted to make the most of every opportunity.”

It helped his focus and perspective, but one thing being injured as a junior didn’t help was his college prospects. Sinclair actively sought out opportunities to play next year, but didn’t draw much interest because of the injury. So he will attend Holy Cross in the fall to study economics.

He’s not giving up on baseball just yet, though.

“I’ll see what I can do walking on,” he said. “It’s obviously a stretch because it’s Division I baseball, but I’m going to give it a shot.”

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

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Twitter: @RAWmaterial33