When I was awoken by the sound of a text message on the morning of November 16, 2014 little did I know that my life would never be the same. As I glanced at my phone I read a message from an unfamiliar number, a 617 number. Being from St. Louis I had absolutely no idea where this number could be from, nor why they would be contacting me at such an early hour. That text message read “Hanley’s agreed with the BoSox, trust me.” At the time, I had a twitter following of a little over 200 followers, tallied up from two years of opinionated baseball tweets. I had always aspired to be a journalist, with idols such as Heyman and Rosenthal, so why not start now? Still having no idea who this guy is, I tweeted it out. “Why not?” I thought. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. About three hours passed and nothing was happening. Not even suggestions of Hanley to the Red Sox had been mentioned in the media. As I was about to give up, I sent Jon Heyman a DM on Twitter; shockingly, he replied. “Nothing” he said, as I questioned him on whether or not he had heard anything. Finally, Around 6 PM the story broke. It was real. All of it. Around 10 that evening I got another text from this same, unknown, number. This one read “Pablo too, around 5/100.” Of course, I went with it. And the rest is history. I have been lucky enough to be featured in the New Yorker, Bostinno, Yahoo Sports, and even ESPN. All of this is thanks to this “mystery man.” After about a week of discussions, I finally identified him- and without sharing his name- let’s just say he’s a pretty important guy. Really important.
Today, I experienced the same jolt of energy that I did on that cold November morning. However, this time it was a message from the St. Louis Cardinals.
In early January I learned that I may have the opportunity to become the batboy for the St. Louis Cardinals through a family friend in the Cardinals organization. Immediately interested, I wrote up a resume with the help of my parents and teachers. As the weeks went by I started to doubt whether or not I would even be interested in the position, if it was officially offered to me. Reluctantly, I sought the advice of my coaches and those whom I look up. To my surprise, I received an outcry of support and people telling me that I should pursue it because it would change my life forever. Realistically, my mind was telling me how challenging this would be with school, as well as how difficult it would be to give up the sports that I have worked so hard my entire life for. Thankfully, someone I look up to as an idol in my life, convinced me to follow my heart. The words “if your heart says yes then do, because the regret of missing that opportunity will stick with you forever” really resonated with me and made this decision much easier.
As you can probably infer, when I received that message today, I accepted the job as bat boy for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Being able to call myself a part of the St. Louis Cardinals organization is a true honor. As you may imagine, I will be in the clubhouse on a daily basis; in return for that privilege, I must give up the journalistic aspect of my life. This means that this will be the last article I post on mlbnlal.com, and I will no longer have news-based tweets on my twitter account. I am very thankful for all of the people, and fans, that have helped me have so much success in this field. The accreditation by Jon Heyman, the interviews with Stephen Piscotty and Mitch Harris, and the support of thousands of people are truly why I have been able to do this for such a long time. I am forever blessed to have been able to add fuel to the “Hot Stove” and give information to a wide variety of people for the last few years. And for that, I thank you.
On a personal note, the most difficult aspect of this decision was whether or not I could give up sports. Despite my journalistic success, my most coveted accomplishment is being able to call myself a Rockwood Summit Soccer State Champion. For that, I need to personally thank Coach Kappler. Coach Kap always believed in me, even when no one -including myself- did. If it weren’t for his confidence in me I never would have been given such an incredible opportunity, and for that I am forever grateful. Rockwood Summit Soccer is blessed to have such incredible coaches, I wouldn’t be the man I am today if it weren’t for playing for Coach Hill and Coach Gilbert prior to reaching varsity, the bond you both create with each player is truly special and has changed me forever. I can’t wait to see what the 2017 season has in store for us, and I hope I can find a way to still be a part of such a coveted organization.
Following this State Championship run, I was looking forward to being a part of another one with Summit Baseball. I will never forget the 22-1 season I was a part of my freshman year when Coach Bunyard selected me as a part of his team. Although he may not realize it, my work ethic today is because of him. I take pride in being considered a hard worker, and I learned those traits from Coach Bunyard. If I didn’t have that mindset of “work hard even when no one’s watching,” I never would have even gotten the opportunity to be considered as a candidate for the batboy position. This mindset has changed my life forever and will ensure unlimited success in my future. Furthermore, my JV baseball season for Rockwood Summit provided me with the most fun I have ever had while playing the game of baseball. The loose environment brought by Coach Jones brought smiles to everyone's face each time we stepped onto the field. This truly made me fall in a deep love for baseball, which has led to me wanting to pursue it even further (as batboy). Unfortunately, as a part of the Cardinals staff, I will not be able to play baseball this spring but I can’t wait to watch in awe as my former teammates and coaches go on to win a ring of their own.
My entire life I have enjoyed helping others, especially in sports. The Midwest Surge gave that to me when Nick Herrin offered me a youth coaching job in the program. The Midwest Surge is an incredible organization that has changed my life forever, as a player and coach. I have developed so many close friends through the Surge and I am blessed that coach Herrin is allowing me to remain on the team, as time allocates. Nick Herrin has done so many incredible things to better me in life, and was a huge help in me getting this job with the Cardinals. I can’t imagine how much different my life would be if I was never introduced to the Surge and all of the incredible coaches and players that have bettered me forever. Huge thank you to the Surge, I am forever in your debt.
Lastly, so many unnamed friends, teammates, teachers, and family members have made this change so easy and it wouldn't be possible without them. I can’t wait to see what this next chapter of my life brings, and I am beyond honored to be able to call myself the Bat Boy for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Jake Wesley, a high school student that is strongly opinionated in the world of sports and politics