Dirtbags redshirt freshman designated hitter Charlie Loust has endured hardships that many cannot imagine, but his positive disposition hides that.
“He’s such a positive guy,” Dirtbags head coach Eric Valenzuela said. “It’s good to see.”
Loust has endured times that can hardly be described as positive. The first major hurdle in his life came before he was 10-years-old.
“When Charlie was 8-years-old, his mom just got up and left,” Charlie’s father, Mike Loust said.
The abandonment changed Charlie’s life. His grandmother helped Charlie with school-related issues but he was still left without a true maternal figure. Consequently, his relationship with his dad became especially important.
“My dad is my biggest motivator,” Charlie said. “He’s just been through so much stuff.”
Mike is a long-range fishing boat captain who is at sea for about 200 days of the year. After Charlie’s mother left, Mike wasn’t going to do the same, so he took Charlie along on many of his fishing trips.
“He would spend his entire summers at sea with me,” Mike said. “About 21 to 25 days at a time.”
Those trips provided a strong opportunity for Mike to pass on important lessons to his son.
“He always just told me to stay humble,” Charlie said.
Mike said he thinks Charlie gained his work ethic from those trips, too. Charlie applied that work ethic to baseball, which became his main outlet after his mother abandoned the family.
“He loved fishing,” Mike said, “but baseball drove him.”
Charlie is built to hit baseballs. His 6-foot-1-inch, 215-pound frame gives him a naturally powerful stance in the batter’s box.
“I’ve always been able to hit,” Charlie said.
Charlie added the work ethic he learned from his father while fishing to his own natural talent when he started playing for the Quakes baseball club in middle school.
“He would bike to school then go to practice after,” Mike said. “He was usually the first one there and the last one to leave.”
Charlie developed into an incredible player, quickly attracting national attention from scouts. He was invited to try out for the Team USA U17 development program at 17.
“Some coaches just invited me to go to Chicago for stars versus stripes,” Charlie said. “It’s kinda like a development program, and then based off of that, you can make another 40-man team.”
Charlie made the team, something that meant the world to him. He had earned an opportunity to represent his country doing what he loved more than anything.
But misfortune would strike again.
Charlie’s coach with his club team asked him to suit up for a game just a couple days before Charlie was supposed to leave for the Team USA program. His father knew the game wasn’t very important and told him he didn’t have to play.
“[Charlie] said ‘No, I told them I would do it, I’m a man of my word,’” Mike said.
Charlie was a catcher, and the game turned into a battle between him and the opposing catcher for the other team, trading successful at-bats each time up.
At one point, the opposing catcher was rounding third base attempting to score. Charlie stopped him.
“Charlie didn’t want to do it, but he did it,” Mike said. “He just completely laid the kid out.”
Later on in the game when rounding third to score, Charlie ran down the base line with his head down and full of steam. The opposing catcher began to get in his stance to enact his revenge.
The umpire realized what was happening and stood in front of the opposing catcher, attempting to protect Charlie. Instead, he got in Charlie’s way. When Charlie looked up, he dug his cleats in the dirt to avoid the umpire and disaster struck.
“I tore my ACL,” Charlie said. “I wasn’t able to go [to the Team USA program]. It was pretty sad.”
Mike remembers the moment vividly.
“I was in tears,” Mike said. “It devastated him.”
Charlie recovered from the ACL tear, but years of wear and tear from playing catcher also damaged his elbow. The surgery to his throwing arm was botched.
Now he is unable to effectively throw a baseball without significant pain for the foreseeable future, ruling out making an impact on the fielding side of the game.
As with everything thrown at him before, Charlie’s view on not being able to take the field defensively stays as positive as possible.
“Nothing’s better than playing the field and hitting at the same time, but to be honest, I would rather just do anything to be able to help the team win,” Charlie said. “If they want me to DH, I’ll DH.”
Charlie’s journey is far from over. In fact, as a redshirt freshman, his time with the Dirtbags is just beginning, with three years of eligibility left after the end of the 2020 season.
Charlie knows the value of staying positive, something that his dad instilled in him. Whatever obstacles are ahead of them, he’ll use that positivity to overcome them, just like he always has.
“Being negative isn’t gonna get us anywhere,” Mike said.
The Dirtbags will travel to Tony Gwynn Stadium to face San Diego State Tuesday, Mar. 3 at 6 p.m.