Taking a break from the usual Orioles coverage to tell a story.
I have a favorite baseball player, like most fans do. Mine is oft-injured/sick infielder Jed Lowrie, who I initially began watching as a prospect in 2007 when I was having trouble making friends my freshman year of college. I had taken an interest in prospects coming out of the Pac-10 Conference (now the Pac-12), since Ellsbury and Pedroia had both come from the conference and were highly successful at the Major League level. Jed had been drafted out of Stanford in 2005, which caught my eye immediately because I’m basically a huge nerd and I love smart baseball players.
It’s now three years later, and I’m graduating.
And so is he.
Although he’s been rather busy during the past few offseasons, he’d put work into his political science degree during ’05 and ’06 after being drafted as a junior. In ’07, he was playing in Arizona. In ’08 and ’09, he was playing in the postseason with the Red Sox, which made me an extremely happy (and proud) fan. But during a bout with mononucleosis in 2010, which took him out for half of the season (like his wrist did for most of ’09), he decided that since he wasn’t able to play, he might as well finish up his degree. And he did just that, finally polishing things off just a few days ago.
I know he hasn’t played as much as he or I would have liked at the Major League level so far, so you’re probably wondering why he’s still my favorite after all these years. Honestly? It’s that personality and intellect. It’s not just that he has the education, it’s that he was passionate enough to go back and finish it up, even so many years removed. And as for the personality – he’s had quite a few setbacks, from his wrist woes to his mono, and yet no matter what happens to him, he still manages to be upbeat and he’s always smiling (or laughing, which is lethal for me, but that’s another story). He turns negatives into positives, puts in work where he needs to (and where he wants to), and has yet to give up despite his numerous spells of bad luck.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is the type of player your children should be looking up to. He does everything the right way, says the right things, and cares about things that any parent would want their kids to care about. And he’s just so amazingly genuine and humble about everything, to top it off. He’s the perfect role model for kids out there, and yet very few of them would even think about him when naming their favorite players, which is a shame.
But hey – maybe, just maybe, parents will start telling their kids that if they keep reading, they can make the Majors like Jed did. And that’s a start.