Thank goodness Brian O'Grady never received a copy of the New School Athletes' Guidebook.

You know the drivel that's in there, right?

As soon as a guy becomes proficient in one sport, to the degree it's obvious he'll wind up with a Division I scholarship, he should forsake all other athletic endeavors and bore himself to tears by doing the same thing over and over 365 days a year.

O'Grady, a 6-2, 185-pound junior at Archbishop Wood High, is receiving interest from a number of quality baseball programs and hopes to make his college decision by the end of the summer.

As for basketball . . .

Don't worry, he'll remain in the fold.

"Hey, all my best friends are there," he said, smiling. "They wouldn't like it if I didn't keep playing.

"Plus, basketball helps me. It keeps me in really good shape. I think I'm quicker and faster than a lot of guys just because of the running around I do with a lot of great athletes."

O'Grady addressed the two-sport subject early last night at Penn's Meiklejohn Stadium after helping the Catholic League spank Chester County, 9-2, in the first round of the 24th annual Carpenter Cup Classic.

The 16-team, single-elimination tournament, backed by the Phillies, features all-star squads from the tri-state area. The CL's next game - Friday, 9 a.m., same site - will be a quarterfinal vs. Mercer County.

Batting second and playing centerfield, O'Grady, who throws righthanded but swings lefty, went 3-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored in his six-inning stint (maximum allowed).

His effort was part of a special occasion for the Vikings. Second baseman Kyle McCrossen went 2-for-2 and scored a run, catcher Mike Kerns collected a hit (and made a textbook catch of a high popup no more than 2 feet from the plate), and righthander Matt McAllister recorded three strikeouts in two scoreless innings.

Just as enjoyable for O'Grady was the fact that Wood's co-coaches, the father-son team of Jim DiGuiseppe Sr. and Jr., were part of the staff for coach Steve Carr (Cardinal Dougherty).

"The whole thing was nice," he said. "This meant a lot to us."

In basketball, though he did not earn coaches' All-Catholic honors, O'Grady showed true-grit traits while leading his squad in rebounds. He also averaged 10.9 points in Blue Division play.

Not many of his Carp Cup teammates play another sport, let alone are prominent in it.

On the diamond, he started in rightfield as a freshman, moved to third base last year, and popped up this campaign in center.

"I got faster; I don't know how that happened," O'Grady said. "They like my combination of arm and speed for center. That's the best spot to play in the outfield because you get good reads on the ball.

"Baseball's definitely the sport I love the most. I like the competition. Just the act of hitting a baseball. I love it."

(The third major sport is also in O'Grady's family tree. His brother, Bill Fulforth, was a star receiver for Archbishop Ryan, Class of 1997, then played at Albright and La Salle.)

With the CL already up, 1-0, thanks to an unearned run in the first, O'Grady led off the third by beating out a grounder to shortstop. Mark Donato (Ss. Neumann-Goretti) singled to right, Jeff Lynch (St. Joseph's Prep) absorbed a plunking and then Al Baur (N-G, double) and Tyler Freeman (La Salle, single) followed with hits good for two runs apiece.

"I threw away my bat right away and started chugging. I knew it was going to be close," O'Grady said. "I got there just a hair before the ball. It felt good to show my speed and get us a baserunner."

The CL's four-run fifth also featured a pair of hits good for two markers apiece. Mike Riverso (N-G, double) and O'Grady (single) did those honors.

Kevin Gillen (SJ Prep) and Joe Harvey (Kennedy-Kenrick) pitched three innings apiece. McAllister and Kevin Cahill (Conwell-Egan) completed the win. Though Harvey yielded the runs, he also notched five strikeouts.

O'Grady, who lives in Warminster, is drawing interest from Virginia, Virginia Tech, Penn, Villanova, South Carolina and Coastal Carolina, among others.

"I don't have offers yet, but schools like that would be nice," he said. "I'd stay up here for 'Nova, but basically I'm thinking down South. If the summer goes the way I'm hoping, I'll be able to commit and then not have to worry once the school year starts."

He'll also continue to experience old-school, two-sport fun. *