Baseball has taken Stephen Gilmore to a lot of places, including Cooperstown.
Gilmore has been on AAU teams that have played in the national pastime's most historic town in upstate New York, and consequently he has visited The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum there.
While induction into the Hall of Fame is every young player's dream, Gilmore is working on a career that possibly will place him among the top players in First Assembly Christian School's history.
Coming off a year in which he was named all-conference and the team's most valuable player, Gilmore is off to solid start in his junior season and has the Eagles in position to push for a state playoff berth.
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A Concord resident, Gilmore started playing T-ball when he was 4 years old. He started with and continued playing for Mallard Creek Optimist Club leagues until he was 8; that's when he joined the Charlotte Yankees, an AAU team coached by Tony Dimino, who would eventually coach Gilmore at First Assembly during his ninth-grade year.
Gilmore started attending First Assembly as a fifth-grader and was eligible to play for the middle school baseball team starting in the sixth grade. In seventh grade, his outstanding pitching earned him the Eagles' defensive player of the year award.
As a left-handed eighth-grader, Gilmore made his way into the varsity team's starting rotation, and he also played a little first base and right field. Gilmore was the starting pitcher in the Eagle's loss to Cannon School in the Metrolina Athletic 2A Conference tournament championship game.
As a freshman, Gilmore became a regular in the lineup and was the No. 2 man in the rotation.
But after the season, it looked as if his years at First Assembly were over. The Gilmores moved to Florida because of his father Warren's job. But they spent only a couple months there, moving back to Concord early in the 2008-09 school year.
Gilmore was back in time to have a breakout sophomore season. His .419 batting average and prowess on the mound - which included a 17-strikeout game against Northside Christian - led to him being selected team MVP.
A lanky 6-feet-3-inches tall and 155 pounds, Gilmore knows he can benefit by some weight gain. For that reason, he gave up basketball, which he played at First Assembly as a freshman and sophomore, so he could spend the season lifting weights.
"I went up to the YMCA twice a week," he said.
"I feel like I've gotten stronger and feel like it's helped a lot."
Through 11 games, First Assembly is 6-5 overall and 5-5 in the MAC. Gilmore's pitching is largely responsible for the Eagles' record.
In six starts, Gilmore is 3-4 with four complete games. In 39.2 innings, he has 64 strikeouts and a 1.80 earned-run average, limiting opponents to 26 hits, nine walks and a .167 batting average.
On March 23, he locked into a pitchers duel with Gaston Christian. Gilmore gave up just one bloop single as First Assembly won 1-0 in a game that took just under one hour to complete.
His pitching against Northside Christian on April 1 wasn't his best, but his bat was integral in a 5-4 win.
Trailing 4-2 with one out in the bottom of the seventh, Gilmore singled in a run and Jonathan Martin plated another run with a single.
With two outs, Gabe Sites' single to right drove home Gilmore with the winning run.
Last summer, Gilmore played for Concord American Legion Post 51.
Gilmore plans to play for the South Charlotte Panthers showcase team this summer.
A National Honor Society member, Gilmore says he has spoken to coaches from Gardner-Webb and Washington and Lee (Va.) about playing baseball in college.