Dreams of a pro baseball career hinge on Air Force decision (Macon Telegraph) By Gene Rector - firstname.lastname@example.org ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE -- It's a story that mixes dreams, national security and a rare request, but an Air Force second lieutenant is hoping that a door will open for him to pursue a career in professional baseball. Karl Bolt must report to Robins Air Force Base by Aug. 4 unless Air Force Secretary Michael Wynn grants a waiver. The Air Force Academy graduate was recently drafted in the 15th round by the Philadelphia Phillies, but the opportunity will slip away, Bolt believes, unless his request gains a favorable ruling. Academy graduates generally have a five-year active duty commitment, although some football players have received waivers to serve two years on active duty and six years in the reserves. The two-year part won't work for baseball, contends Bolt. "If you take two years off, you're pretty much done from a skills standpoint," he said by telephone Wednesday from the Phillies' training facility in Clearwater, Fla. "Plus, by then I'd be 23, and interest from major league baseball will be gone. That's why I'm trying to get an exception to policy." The Stockton, Calif., native is willing to fulfill his commitment in a number of ways - during the offseason, after he finishes his professional career or in the reserves. The request has been filed, he said, and it has the support of academy officials, including Lt. Gen. John Regni, superintendent of the Academy. "But I'm not sure how it will turn out," confessed the power-hitting first baseman/outfielder. "It looks positive, but I don't know how the secretary will react. I believe it's a win-win opportunity for the Air Force as well as me. I just hope they see it that way, and I get the chance to follow a childhood dream." Capt. Tom Wenz, an Air Force Pentagon spokesman, confirmed that Bolt's request had been received and was being staffed, although he was not sure how long the decision process would take. "Typically, requests to the secretary take quite a while," Wenz pointed out Wednesday, "but the offices reviewing it are aware that a quick decision is required. They are doing their best." Bolt's interest from major league baseball was not unexpected. The four-year Falcons starter completed his senior season at the academy with eight homers, 47 runs batted in and a batting average of .349. He was a first-team, all-Mountain West Conference selection and the academy's most valuable player for the second consecutive year. Bolt is attending a Phillies mini-camp prior to reporting to his first minor league assignment. He believes that will be the team's Class A, short-season club in Williamsport, Pa. He said he loves pro baseball so far. "Everything is directed toward getting better as a player," Bolt said. "In college, you're torn in a lot of different directions. Here, there is so much more time. I get a lot of rest, plus you can work at the skills involved. It's a lot of fun and the coaching's really good." He believes power hitting and a strong throwing arm are his selling points. "Most major league organizations have looked at me as a hitter," Bolt said. "Hopefully I can develop enough to be a decent or well-above average infielder or outfielder. It will just take a lot of hard work." Robins officials said they would put Bolt to work if his request is denied. "We're looking forward to getting him," Capt. John Robinson said. Robinson is acting operations officer for the 78th Logistics Readiness Squadron where Bolt would be assigned. The academy graduate could be used in a variety of areas, Robinson said, including fuel and vehicle operations, traffic management, deployment and redeployment. "We cover the gamut," the operations chief said. "We're focused on our mission and we'd look forward to him being added to our team." But Robinson also admitted that Bolt's assignment could offer an additional benefit. "We'd definitely have a better softball team," the captain said with a chuckle. "Maybe we'd even win the base championship."