Catching Up With A’s Starting Pitcher and Fort Wayne Native Jarrod Parker
Editor’s Note: Last Wednesday, John Nolan drove down to Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, where the Reds were hosting the A’s. After the game, John caught up with Fort Wayne native turned Oakland starting pitcher Jarrod Parker.
John Nolan: What comes to mind first when you think of your time growing up in Fort Wayne playing baseball?
Jarrod Parker: Just fun, being a kid, learning the game. At that age, baseball’s just a game where you have fun and try to learn as much as you can about the game. You figure out if it’s something you want to pursue — playing more, traveling in high school. I think what I remember most is having a blast at the ballpark with friends and family.
JN: Who were your baseball role models in Indiana given that it’s not a state known for producing much major league talent?
JP: My grandpa was my first little league coach. That’s something I’ll always cherish. I had a lot of great coaches coming up through high school and travel ball — Kelby Weybright, Mark De La Garza. Those guys were pretty influential on my career in building me into who I am today. Also, growing up playing with my brother — my dad was always around and coaching, too. They’re my biggest coaches and critics even to today.
JN: Did you go to Wizards games as a kid?
JP: Definitely. We went to at least one a year, if not more. I can remember when Vince Faison was there playing. He took the time out of getting ready to play a game to come talk to us. That’s something that I always remember. Being around the ballpark, you see kids that come to the game to have fun, and they look up to us. I try to remember to be like Vince.
JN: What’s your best memory from your days playing at Norwell High School?
JP: Winning state. The team accomplishment is what was important. I had a blast playing with those guys. Going undefeated was another accomplishment we achieved. To win as many games as we did in those couple years at Norwell was a pretty cool thing.
JN: This year’s Norwell team also won the state title. Did you keep track of the team and its star player Josh VanMeter, who was recently selected in the fifth round of the draft by the Padres?
JP: Yeah, I did. I actually was watching the state game on my phone to keep up with that. And I was texting Kelby, keeping in touch with Coach Weybright all the time. When Josh was drafted I sent him a text to congratulate him and told him anything he needs, to let me know.
JN: Anything you’d like to say to your fans back in Fort Wayne?
JP: Keep cheering us on. It’s a long season and we appreciate all the support.