My love affair with Jake Peavy the pitcher began in the summer of 2002, as a fantasy baseball obsessed 16-year-old on my annual summer vacation to my grandparents cottage in Baldwin, Michigan.
It was the days of dial-up internet, and my dad and I would rack up a bigger phone bill over the course of 7 days in the cottage than my grandparents would spend during the other 358 days of the year. My dad had legitimate work to do. I had a fantasy team to run.
And that summer I found my guy in the 21-year-old rookie Peavy, who I liked because he threw strikes. I read the scouting reports, drooled over the box scores, and waited up late at night to perhaps catch a glimpse of one of his West Coast starts on Sportscenter. This was, after all, back when Sportscenter was a medium for highlights – not hype.
I watched, and I liked, and the following Spring, as a Junior in high school, I made Peavy “Mr. Irrelevant”, the last overall pick in a live draft with a group of friends that I still play fantasy baseball with. I sat through 20-some-odd grueling rounds at Sawyer’s house in South Newton, just waiting for the moment when I could say, “I want Peavy,” and I could watch his name be drawn on the whiteboard with the rest of my team. Of course I knew he was a top tier player, but my arrogance, and desire to one-up everyone else made me content to watch him slide round after round. Just so I could say, “I told you so” later that year and for years to come.
Finally, after hours, he was mine, and he was good. Year after year after year.
Fast forward to 2013.
Jake Peavy is an aging hurler with a lot of miles, but still some of the best raw talent in the game. I live in Mobile, AL, Peavy’s hometown, and work as the play-by-play broadcaster for the Mobile BayBears – where Peavy pitched in 2001 and 2002. Jake Peavy is a member of the BayBears Hall of Fame, and Suite 21 at Hank Aaron Stadium is the Jake Peavy suite. He buys the suite for every one of the 70 BayBears home games, and he donates the suite to deserving charities throughout the community throughout the season. Seeing his name every day at the ballpark is a thrill. Having a signed limited edition print of him as a BayBear hanging beside my desk is even cooler.
I live 2 1/2 miles from St. Paul’s Episcopal High School, where Peavy pitched from 1996-1999, and from where he was drafted in the 15th round by the San Diego Padres in 1999.
One of my first assignments upon moving down to Mobile was to work a high school baseball tournament. As the official scorer for a game at Mary G. Montgomery High School, I sat in the press box next to one of Peavy’s hunting buddies, the PA announcer, who regaled us with tales of Peavy the outdoorsman throughout the night.
It was cool to feel so close to a pitcher I so irrationally loved back in February, and even last week when there was no telling where he would end up pitching the balance of his current contract. Now that he’s been traded to the Red Sox, and could presumably finish his career with the Red Sox, I’m simply over the moon.
Imagining the ’44’ in red on the mound at Fenway against the Rays in Spetember (because who really cares about the Yankees any more) is awesome. The thought that I might be back in Boston with a chance to see Peavy pitch at Fenway during this postseason is surreal.
Red Sox fans who don’t really know Jake Peavy, know this, we just made our greatest deadline deal since ’04. Get excited. Should his health hold up, we’ll be getting at least 14 more months from one of the 21st century’s great pitchers. And that’s worth a Jose Iglesias every day of the week.
And by the way guys, I told you so!