Hampshire grad Jake Goebbert got his first major league at bat on Friday night and got an RBI single to spark a San Diego Padres comeback. Sports editor Jon Styf and senior reporter Joe Stevenson discuss:
Styf: Joe, you've seen a lot of great moments with local athletes in recent years. Bryan Bulaga winning a Super Bowl. Evan Jager and Amy LePeilbet in the Olympics. Where does this one rank?
Stevenson: It ranks right up there, just from the standpoint of it being Goebbert's first major-league at-bat. It was a beautiful swing and there was nothing cheap about it. It was a bullet to right field. Plus, it drove in a run and helped the Padres come back from a 5-1 deficit to win 6-5. Bulaga got a Super Bowl ring as a rookie, I'm not sure how you top that. And LePeilbet is the only Olympic gold medalist from our area that I know of. And it was thrilling watching Jager, at a Buffalo Wild Wings full of people wearing "Makin' Steeple Cool" Jager T-shirts, running in the 2012 London Olympics. You hope Goebbert gets a lot more opportunities to have some huge moments.
Styf: What do you remember about Goebbert, the high school player? What made him the 2006 Male Athlete of the Year?
Stevenson: I remember that he could really hit, he was fast in the outfield, he was also a pretty good pitcher, a heck of a good option quarterback and tough on the basketball court as well. He's just one of those naturals who could do anything. I remember he had those cool red-tinted contacts that cut down on the glare on sunny days. One of my favorite basketball games that year was when he and Richmond-Burton's Nate Roberts, who actually played travel baseball together, were guarding each other in the second half. They were friends and had a lot of respect, but they badly wanted to get the better of one another.
Styf: Goebbert is obviously the exception, as are the other local athletes we mentioned earlier. But do you know a guy like him is going to make it when you see him? I remember covering a game Tim Tebow won as a high school junior (they were up 60-something to zero at the half) and wrote about how I was certain he would play on Sundays. Was Goebbert like that and how many others like that haven't made it?
Stevenson: Guys like Bulaga and C.J. Fiedorowicz, who was just drafted by the Houston Texans, I knew were big-time. Baseball's a lot different though, and I can't say I knew Goebbert would make it all the way. There are guys from around here in the minors who were probably better in high school. But I knew Goebbert had that insatiable desire to make himself better. On their farm on Route 47 he had a pitching machine and another machine that threw tennis balls to work on training the eyes to track balls. When people around him say that he worked his tail off to get there, they are absolutely correct.
Styf: And on Friday night, you could see from the smile on his face that he got what it all meant. His family was there, his team needed a rally and he did exactly what it took to put them in a spot to rally. Just a great moment.