South Charlotte

Athlete of the week: Bard siblings are all taking their turn at the plate

The youngest of three brothers, Luke Bard has watched his older brothers, Daniel and Jared, play baseball all his life.

Daniel, 25, starred at Charlotte Christian before doing the same at North Carolina; he now is a right-handed setup man with the Boston Red Sox.

Jared, 22, was a star at Christian before playing college ball at University of Richmond.

Even the brothers' father, Paul Bard, was a standout baseball player at Tufts University before playing minor-league ball in the Los Angeles Dodgers' and Baltimore Orioles' organizations.

Luke, 20, is the sophomore closer for a Georgia Tech team currently 30-12 (as of April 28) and No. 12 in the country (Baseball America).

"I definitely grew up around the game with my brothers and father," said Luke. "I learned a lot from all of them. I've always felt like I had a leg up on the competition because I knew what to do, and I knew what to expect."

Bard's high school coach, Charlotte Christian's Greg Simmons, who coached all three Bard brothers, said Luke's talent is equal to his siblings.

"It's hard to compare them because they were all different players," said Simmons, who also says the Bards' baseball lineage extends to uncles and grandfathers. "But the common thread is that those are the guys you want on the mound or at the plate when the game is on the line. Those are the game-changing players."

While Luke Bard had a lot of expectations even as a high school pitcher at Charlotte Christian, he has lived up to his own billing.

After starring at Charlotte Christian, earning all-state and All-American honors as a junior and senior, Bard was picked by the Red Sox in the 2009 Major League draft.

"My dream has always been to play professional baseball, and someday make it to the major leagues," said Luke. "It was cool that the Red Sox drafted me, because my brother was already on the team. It was very tempting to try to go pro."

Instead, Luke Bard made the decision to play for Georgia Tech.

In 2010, Bard spent his freshman year getting used to everything from college baseball and better competition to everyday life, which included challenges like making his own food and doing his own laundry, according to Bard.

"Even aside from baseball, going to college is a huge adjustment in life," Bard said. "You move away from home and everything you know. It was definitely a humbling experience for me.

"But you have to remind yourself that you are here for a reason and just keep working hard to get better."

After appearing 19 times his freshman season and posting a 7.43 ERA, including one start, Bard's numbers and opportunities have improved in his sophomore year.

Bard now is the established closer for the Yellow Jackets and is 2-2 this year with a 3.79 ERA, including 31 strikeouts, 15 walks and six saves in 19 appearances.

"It's exciting to be the closer, knowing that you could be pitching every day you go out on the field," said Bard. "There's a lot going on in your mind, but it is an exhilarating feeling to go in with the game on the line, most of time."

Bard can throw a consistent 92 to 93 mph fastball, his best pitch, a vicious slider and the occasional changeup or curveball.

Bard said his brother Daniel can throw 98 to 101 mph and that maybe one day he could reach those speeds.

"It's an awesome thing to be able to throw that fast," said Luke.

"I'd love to do it, but right now only a handful of guys in the world can do that, so I won't worry about it too much."