Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Vol State All-Star Update


Steve Delabar has an All-Star moment in New York. Mark Cunningham/Getty Images.
In case you missed it this summer, former Vol State baseball player Steve Delabar is officially a Major League Baseball All-Star. The Toronto Blue Jays pitcher was voted in by fans in the final round for the 2013 American League All-Star team. Delabar pitched part of an inning in the All-Star Game at Citi Field in New York, securing a strike-out.

Vol State Baseball Coach, Mike Crossland, talked to Delabar just the other day.

"He said it was phenomenal. He was in the bullpen with Mariano Rivera (13-time All-Star and five-time World Series Champion) and talked to him for about 20 minutes. It was an unbelievable experience."

A few weeks later Delabar went on to pitch an immaculate inning, the first in Blue Jays history. An immaculate inning is nine pitches for three strike outs. Unfortunately, Steve went on the disabled list for the Blue Jays a couple of weeks ago and remains there today. However, the Blue Jays say it's just for right shoulder inflammation and they don't think it's serious.

"He expects to return in the next week or two," said Crossland. "He's been working with their minor league team in Florida."

The All-Star honor is well-deserved for Delabar and also a testament to the strength of the Vol State baseball program. Delabar has an incredible story of overcoming challenges.

Delabar pitched for the Vol State Pioneers eleven years ago. He blew out his elbow in the 2001-2002 baseball season and there were grave concerns about his major league hopes. In 2004, he finally made it to the San Diego Padre’s minor league team and spent the next five years working through his injury in single A ball.  The final straw came after he broke his elbow. Doctors wired it together using screws and a plate. Delabar left baseball and returned to his home of Elizabethtown, Kentucky.  He worked as a substitute teacher and coached baseball for the local high school.  All the while, he never stopped chasing the dream of pitching in the majors.

One day he had his opportunity. A scout came out to the Kentucky high school and watched the teacher throw. He returned to the majors with Seattle and has been pitching with Toronto for the last two seasons. 
 
Delabar plans a trip back to Vol State in October. Coach Crossland says he will be coming in to implement his strength and conditioning regiment with the Vol State players. Needless to say, the players are excited.

"Anytime that you can meet a big leaguer is special, and especially if it's a big leaguer who played here."

You may remember that the Vol State Pioneer baseball team went to the final round of the TCCAA Region Seven Tournament. We're excited to see what they can do in the upcoming season. Coach Crossland has high hopes.

"We've got a brand new team coming in. On paper we're really good," he said. "This is probably as much talent as we've ever had coming in."

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