It has always been a dream of mine to play in the Majors leagues. My dad has always pushed me to be the best I could be. My mother Michelle and my twin sister Amanda have been there for travel ball games, recreational league games, high school games and my college games. College baseball has been the highlight of my life and I am a potential draft prospect and could be getting drafted by a professional team.
“You will always achieve your goals if you work hard enough,” Dad always said. “Just remember most of these guys have not worked as hard as you have to get where you are today.” My dad was just diagnosed with cancer just a month ago.
He never really mentions it neither does any of our family members. It has been rough for all of us to realize that he has cancer and he might not make it. My mom always takes it the hardest whenever someone somewhat mentions it,almost breaking down into tears. But the one thing that never fails to make her and my dad happy is me and my sister. Amanda is currently still in college at UCLA she is in the medical field studying kinesiology trying to do whatever she can to get a solid job. She is the hardest working person you will ever meet and she will try to beat you at everything. . My family is the most competitive family you'll ever meet we all strive to be the best such as when we go bowling as a family no one wants to lose.
We will just have to wait and see what happens on Draft day which is June 6 which is in two weeks. We all went to lunch during on Wednesday it was a perfect sunny day so we went to Huntington beach to have shrimp and lobster. We all sat around it was breezy because we were all sitting outside and just talked about how everything was going to happen and what we were all doing lately just catching up with each other.
My mom says to me “Jake have you been working out you look bigger to me all of a sudden?” I said yes the college had us on a workout plan during the offseason and I need to get ready for the draft so once my name gets called I'll be ready to go as soon as the call me. My mom says angrily “ you're so cocky don't assume anything just be grateful if you do get called!” I said I know mom I am just teasing with you..
We all go back to our everyday routines, my mom going home to help my dad and my sister,back to studying for her finals at UCLA. For me, I am training too for the MLB (Major League Baseball) draft. My agent Bruce has been telling me that I am projected to go in the third round by the New York Mets and get a million dollar signing bonus. That would be an absolute dream come true for me! If I get drafted and get the million dollar signing bonus I am going to buy a brand new house and a car and much more to help support my family.
A week later I get a phone call from my mom.“Honey, your father is in the hospital and is not doing well could you come and see him?”
“I'll be right there!” I replied, racing to my BMW.
When I got to the Laguna Beach hospital, my dad had a really bad headache and didn't feel great, which of course made us worry: is it his cancer? It had to be; it could not be anything else. When the doctor came back with the results, he said, “ Sir, I’m very sorry to tell you that you only have about a couple months to live.”
Immediately my family and I started sobbing and did not know what to do. The biggest thing in my life is coming up in a week and my dad is about to die! What do I do? Do I not go to the draft?
In the days following, I thought about it for days and days thinking about what I should do and my mother told me, “Son. your father and I want you to follow your dreams.” I know it will be hard but you have worked so hard to get this far. keep going son!
The draft was in two days I did not have an outfit to wear for the draft or anything I was too worried about my dad and thinking about what is going to happen to Dad. But, then I realized he still has a couple more months to live. You should live your life and make the best time and when you get a chance to go see him go and do it!
So I said to myself, I am going to go and see my dad in the hospital and see how he is doing. When I went to go see my dad he said to me, “Son, I hope I can make it to the draft on Thursday. I will try my best but no promises.”
“It is okay, Dad, you do not have to do that just be next to a phone so I can call you when when the call my name.” I was thinking to myself I really wanted my dad to be at the draft because he has been someone that has pushed me to get to this point. Even though I fought with him about almost everything he was still like a best friend to me and someone I looked up to. But I know he needed to at least try to get better.
It was one more day closer to the draft and I was as nervous as I could be, panting back and forth, thinking about who I was going to get drafted by and what teams have called me the most or seemed the most interested. The teams that were considering me were the Seattle Mariners, Boston Red Sox, New York Mets and the Florida Marlins. Since I was from Seattle it has been a dream of mine to play for the Mariners after going to all of their games when I was a little kid.
Draft Day was the most nerve wracking day of my life. I could not even sleep I was up until at least four o’clock in the morning. Finally around five o’clock I fell asleep, and was startled awake by the alarm clock and woke up around eight because I had to be up that early to go to breakfast with my family. We all went to my favorite place which was Golden Corral; apparently it was “my day” according to my family. Everyone came to breakfast my mom, sister, grandma, grandpa, and so many cousins. The only one that did not show up was my dad because he was not feeling well. I knew he was not feeling well so I totally understood why he did not come. After breakfast we all went back to the house just to hangout before we went to a local restaurant called Lucky’s where I have been going to since I was a little kid. This is where we were all going to be when the draft was happening. It was a big enough place for all of my family and friends to be there. The draft started at 6 o’clock it was four hours way and I don't know if I will get drafted. It is a high possibility but what if I don’t? What am I going to do if I don’t? My family was trying to get me relaxed but I was so nervous, sweating like crazy.
The MLB (Major League Baseball) draft was about to start and I knew I was not going to get drafted in the first round so I watched the first round go by and just as everyone predicted I did not get drafted in the first round. There are more than 40 rounds in the MLB draft. Round number two came around and there was a possibility I could get drafted. I watched picks numbers 1-10 there are 30 picks in around because there is 30 MLB teams. Then I watched 11-20 still did not hear my name. Finally picks 21-30 came around…. My name was not called. Round 3 was the round I was projected to go in by the New York Mets. But, all of that stuff that the “experts” predict are not always true. So I waited and waited picks number 1-20 were called but my names was not called so I waited pick by pick. I was sweating even more than I was before the draft.
Finally, the announcer said, “In the 3rd Round of the MLB draft with 21st pick the Seattle Mariners select Jake Peterson out of Cal Baptist University.” My family and friends all jumped up screaming, yelling and all jumping on me. I was ecstatic!
The Mariners General Manager called and told me, “Jake, we are glad to have you a part of the Mariners Organization. You will be sent to Arizona on June 16th for spring training.”
“Thank you sir, for giving me this opportunity!” I got off the phone with him and right away called my dad who was still in the hospital. I Dialed the number and when he answered he started screaming into the phone, “Son, I already heard the news. Congratulations! I am so proud of you!”
I immediately broke down into tears. All of my hard work and dedication to this game has finally paid off.
Two weeks later, I was getting ready to go to Spring Training in Peoria, Arizona which was where the Mariners Spring Training facilities were. I would have to fly down to Arizona because driving would be way too much. I packed all my things up from my house, put everything in the car and was ready for my mom to drive me to the airport so I could board my plane. I realized to myself on my way to the airport that I am not going to have family around for a while and no one that I really know so I had to be outgoing and meet some people which is not very hard for me. I boarded my plane gave my mom a kiss goodbye and my plane headed for Phoenix, Arizona. The flight was not very long but I got jet lag so I was really tired. My agent Bruce was there to pick me up in Phoenix. First thing he said to me when I got there, “Jake! I am so proud of you man I can’t wait to be apart of this journey with you.” he gave me a big hug. He said “Okay, first thing's first we have to go to an interview then -”
“Wait what? An interview?”
“Yes, Jake you are professional baseball player now you have to get used to these sorts of things.” I just sat there with a big grin on my face.
Bruce and I went to the interview and they just asked me a few questions like “Jake, how does it feel to be a top prospect in the draft with a million dollar signing bonus?” or “What are you going to do with the million dollars that the team gave you?” These were all great questions and I just answered them as best as I possibly could. It was a great feeling to have my first official interview.
Spring Training practice was starting today and I had no one to talk to, no one to hangout with, and no one to tell me what to do. I just walked in the clubhouse as nervous as an other newcomer that was stepping foot in that clubhouse for the first time. The first person that came up to me was a guy named Dave he was drafted in the 27th round.
“Nice to meet you bro, I heard a lot about you my name is Dave Robinson.” Dave was also a pitcher so we went to the first practice together we both did not know each other well but we had someone to be with. Dave and I played catch together and did all of the pitching drills together. It was a successful first practice but it is so hot in Arizona I was sweating as much as I was when my name was about to be called for the draft.
Dave and I went out to dinner to get to know each other a little better. He is a Southern California kid he went to the University of Southern California (USC). Dave was one of USC’s top pitchers and was also one the PAC 12’s best pitchers. Dave and I instantly became close talking about our personal lives and talking about some things that most people do not know. Dave and I did a lot together went to practice, went to the games together, and stayed at the same hotels when we traveled for games. Spring Training was almost over and it was time for the teams to send us off to the teams we were assigned to. I had a pretty good Spring but Dave did not he had not pitched well. But, he was still confident about making the minor league team instead of playing rookie ball all season long. They told me that I would be assigned to the Clinton Lumberkings which was the highest single A ball you could play. Dave was assigned to the same team. Dave and I went to the first game together we drove out there because it was not too far from Arizona and we needed a car. I was going to start the first game tomorrow night at 7 o’clock. When we pulled into town we went to the facility but they told us to get some rest for the game tomorrow and be at the stadium around 3 o’clock to warm up for the game. We went to dinner then went back to the hotel to get some sleep for the next day.
The next morning we woke up and got some breakfast in the lobby of the hotel. It was a decent breakfast but I was pretty excited to start my first game in the Minor Leagues. This was the first step to making the Major leagues. We went back to the room after breakfast to shower and get ready to go to the stadium. A couple hours later we left the hotel and the stadium was only a couple miles away so I had no time to be nervous about tonight’s game.
When I walked into the stadium I was not as nervous as I was when I walked into the first day of Spring Training. Dave said to me, “Jake, hope you do well tonight bro but we are competing for a job I want you to know that I am very competitive.”
“Definitely, bro, I understand that this a job and we are all trying to get to the Majors.” From there on out is was a man for man battle even though we were on the same team.
I walked into the locker room looking around at everything and I was absolutely amazed by everything: the jerseys, the lockers, and the nice clubhouse that has very clean jerseys and lockers. The clubhouse director showed me to my locker and I saw my name tag that said PETERSON #21 and the jersey that had my last name on the back. The clubhouse director showed me around the training rooms and even walked me around the stadium.
I said to myself “Why are they doing this?” They usually do not do this to regular guys. The trainer took me to the coaches office and the coach said to me.
“Son, it is great to meet you I have heard a lot of good things about you I am Coach Reed.” I said “Thanks coach, Nice to meet you.”. He said to me “You know why you're startin’ tonight?” I looked at him and said I have no idea. He said to me “Because I believe in your abilities and you got drafted pretty high in the draft so that means the organization thinks you have potential to make it to the Major Leagues.” All I did was walk back to the locker room with a huge smile on my face.
I was getting ready for the game putting on my jersey, pants and stirrups. I went out to go warm up for my start. I did the usual went for a quick run, stretched out, and played some long toss with the catcher that had been catching me that night. It was a humid night in Clinton, Iowa there was about 500 people in the stands ready to cheer on their local team. I went out to go to warm up in the bullpen with my catcher and Dave comes out with me to just try and keep calm.
I was ready to start the game I had my mindset ready. So I went out there I was calm, mentally focused and was ready to compete. The first three innings of the game were perfect I retired all 9 batters. But, the next 5 innings I gave up two runs and I was taken out in the top of the eighth inning. Coach reed came up to me and said “Not to bad for your first start you might get called up.”
As Coach Reed expected I was called up to Triple A ball the General Manager for the Mariners called me. I was being sent to Tacoma to play with the Tacoma Rainiers. I had no idea where it was until someone told me where it was. But I was going to go wherever they sent me because getting to the Big Leagues was the goal. Before I left for the airport I had to say goodbye to Dave because he was not getting called up he said to me “Good luck bro I hope you make it big!” I also had to call my parents and tell them where I was going.
When I landed I was greeted by the Tacoma Rainiers assistant coach which was very odd because a coach never picks you up from an airport. But, I just went with the flow and he took me to my hotel so I could shower and get ready to go back to the field. I went back to the hotel showered and got ready. It was very cold and cloudy in Tacoma so for the game I knew I needed a jacket and some long sleeves for the game tonight. I was not pitching in tonight’s game so I just sat around and cheered my new teammates on.
The coach said to me “Are you ready to pitch tomorrow?” I said yes sir.
I went back to the hotel to get some rest for the game tomorrow. The hot tub sounded like a good idea so I went to the hot tub to relax me and not be so nervous like I was in Clinton.
The alarm clock woke me up the next day and it was 9 o’clock in the morning and were all supposed to be up at 8 o’clock. Everyone already had left for the stadium and I was stuck back at the hotel. So I had to call a cab to come and pick me up. I raced downstairs to get to a cab and luckily one was sitting right outside the hotel.
The cab drove so slow it seemed like he stopped at every stop light. But we got to the field in about 10 minutes.
I raced into the clubhouse thinking that the manager was gonna yell at me and tell me I am not starting today. I walked in everyone didn’t even look at me like it wa normal that I came in that late. I glanced around and I did not notice that any of the pitchers were there. I asked the manager where are all of the pitchers?
He said to me “Don’t you know that all pitchers show up at 10 o’clock to get warmed up for the game?” I just went back to my locker feeling like a complete fool.
At least I was prepared for the game and I knew I was I went out there and threw a 9 inning 2 hit shutout. As soon a the game was over the General Manager for the Seattle Mariners called me and said Kid, we are having trouble with our rotation in the Big leagues and I answered and said most definitely. After playing one game of Triple A ball I was being called up to the Major Leagues. Of course I called all my family members and friends. Even called a couple of my coaches such as my high school and college coach.
They were flying me out to Arlington, Texas because we were playing the Texas Rangers. Most of my friends were coming out to watch me start the game in Arlington. My family unfortunately could not make it because my father was still in the hospital at the time. They fly me out to Arlington the same routine happens someone meets you at the airport to greet you and see how everything is going. But, it was a little bit different when I showed up to the airport. The reporters all surrounded me, my agent was trying to look for me it was all a cluster. Finally after all of that a taxi picked us up and took us to the Sheraton Hotel. I got situated and start get ready for bed until I get a phone call from my mom saying “Son, your father is in a coma and am not sure if he is going to wake” she says crying. I started to freak out asking her if there is anything I could do. She said “The only thing you can do is hope and pray and pitch your butt off tomorrow that is what your dad would love.” I could not fall asleep until around ! o’clock in the morning. But, I finally did and woke up the next morning in fear and somewhat excitement.
I woke up had my favorite breakfast at the buffet which was pancakes with bacon and some eggs with a little bit of pepper sprinkled on. Headed back up to my room after I ate, showered, and then I had to start to get ready to go the stadium. I still had not heard from my family members or friends so I was assuming my father was still in a coma. So I went to the ballpark anyways I was absolutely amazed when I walked in with all the bright lights, fancy locker rooms and how everyone treats you like you are a superstar.
I got dressed super early because I wanted to get prepared for the game because I wanted my first start to be as great as it could be. So I do my normal routine get ready and it is about 15 minutes to game time. I get a phone call and it is from my mom. She says to me “Son I am so sorry to tell you this but the doctor just told me that your father has died” I immediately fell to my knees and started crying like a little kid. I was so devastated I did not know whether or not I should pitch that night. But I remembered one thing that my mom had said and it was he would want you to play.I took that in and I played for my dad. As soon as I walked out to that pitchers mound I wrote R.S. #21. I was playing for my father that night and he was going to be with me every step of the way. After 8 innings I was absolutely dealing I have never pitched this good in my life. One batter reached base but that was it. SO I head out for the ninth inning hoping for a complete game shutout but just before I started the inning crouched down said my dad’s name in my head and pointed to the sky. The next three batters all struck out swinging and I finished the night with a complete game shutout 9 innings pitched, 10 strikeouts and given up 1 hit. My father was truly with me. I walked off the mound pointed to the sky once more and said I Love You Dad.
R.I.P Robert Peterson