Two athletes: one on offense the other defense in modern sports such a simplistic beauty is often overlooked but it is in that moment that the game of baseball thrives. That moment as the pitcher releases and the batter swings- it’s that moment that created a national phenomenon.
Indeed, it’s a phenomenon that many of us practice as young children, and it’s those athletes that never lose sight of what little league meant to them that make it as professionals, that is the story of Louisville native and current Seattle Mariners relief pitcher, Shawn Kelley.
A graduate of Ballard High School, Kelley got the attention of Tennessee’s Austin Pea State University, and for good reason. While at Ballard Kelley’s record was nine and one, boasting ninety-five strikeouts, meanwhile proving that some pitchers do have a bat as well achieving a .564 batting average, and cracking seven home runs.
Early on in college Kelley struggled, but found his footing and his senior stats were at 11-3 with eighty-two strikeouts. This was enough for the Mariners, who drafted him to play in their farm league system, a system where he excelled.
Winning games with the 1-A Everett AquaSox, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, and High Desert Mavericks before making his way to 2-A ball where he played with the West Tennessee Diamond Jacks.
It wasn’t until 2009 that Kelley got the call for a spring training try-out with the Mariners, though. It was there that Kelley really gained the attention of Mariners manager, Don Wakamatsu who made a point to comment on the pitcher’s talent. So, when Wakamatsu called Kelley for the roster for that season it didn’t surprise too many.
Instantly Kelley became a valuable asset to the Mariners striking out two batters in his first inning of major league play.
Today, after a notable injury Kelley still plays for the Mariners, continuing to impress.
Image courtesy of My Northwest