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Boxing to batters box: Bareknuckle fighter Louie Lopez chasing pro baseball career

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Posted at 3:17 PM, Apr 13, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-13 17:27:26-04

GREAT FALLS — Whoever said it was too late to change careers and chase your childhood dreams?

At the age of 30, Bare Knuckle Fighting Club competitor Louie Lopez of Great Falls is ready to step out of the ring and onto the diamond as he looks to fulfill his childhood dream of playing professional baseball.

“All my opponents that I faced, they’ve been doing this fighting sport since they were 9. Been boxing since they were 11, been in the gym since they were 10. Well this is where I’ve been since I was 9, this is where I was when I was 10, 11, 12 growing up,” said Lopez. “I was on the ball field. I feel like the baseball field is home.”

This is not the first time Lopez has made the attempt to play professional baseball. In March 2020, Lopez flew to Florida for a pro tryout. He and the other attendees were sent home due to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Four years later, Lopez has reached out to the independent Great Falls Voyagers for a private tryout.

The Voyagers pointed Lopez in the direction of the upcoming Pioneer League camp in Scottsdale, Arizona. Not only will Voyagers scouts be in attendance, but the remaining Pioneer League teams will also be there looking for players to add to their rosters.

“It would be really awesome to play back in Great Falls. It would be quite something to play in Great Falls but I’ll play anywhere they want to put me. If they want to put me in Idaho, Utah, Missoula, or Billings I’m all for it.”

It’s been over 13 years since Louie has played in an actual baseball game, and he knew he had a lot of work to do before showing up in Arizona. For the past six weeks leading up to the tryout, he has been working out alone on the baseball field in attempt to get prepared.

“I’ve been out here by myself, my five baseballs, my bat, my tee, the wall, and I’ve been making do. I go drive to Helena to hit in the batting cages in Helena. I make an hour commute just to get some live pitching whether it’s off the machine or a live arm. It takes an hour just to be able to hit and that’s what I’ve been doing.”

Within the past week, members of the American Legion Great Falls Chargers have noticed Louie working out alone. After hearing his story, they took it upon themselves to help him train for his tryout. Prior to the Chargers practice, a coach has been hitting ground balls to Louie, giving him a chance to work on his fielding technique.

“I feel so much more, how could I say, confident now. I feel way more confident in my playing ability, even if it’s just a few more days until I fly out. I’m very, very, very thankful and way more confident that I’m able to come out here and get some recognition and get some work,” said Lopez. “People recognize what I’m doing and recognize what it takes to do what I’m doing. It’s really awesome.”

In June 2023, Lopez fought for the BKFC featherweight title and came up short. With the decision to leave fighting now and make an attempt at playing baseball again, Lopez understands how the public eye might view this choice. However, he cares more about making the younger version of himself proud that he never quit on his dream.

“The Great Falls community could either say you’re putting your tail between your legs and running away from fighting or they can say follow your dreams. Don’t let your nine to five kill your dreams and keep following it,” said Lopez. “All in all no matter what, love me or hate me, you’ve got to respect me. I’m out here doing what I want to do. I’m out here chasing my childhood dream.”

Lopez will head to Arizona for the Pioneer League camp, which takes place from April 16-18.