During the offseason, San Diego Padres pitcher Jake Peavy calls Mobile his home. It was an easy choice having grown up there. He also owns another home two hours north of Mobile on the Alabama River, a place he fondly calls his “family retreat”. A place where he and his family can get away and spend quality time together while enjoying the things they love: hunting, fishing and quiet family time.
While he lives in Mobile during the offseason, San Diego is his home for seven months during the year. And he is ecstatic that he does not have to get on the mound in the summer heat of Alabama – those who know don’t and won’t take offense to that. The weather is a tad more comfortable during July in San Diego.
“You know it,” Peavy laughs. “There is no question about it.”
But his fondness for Mobile extends beyond the heat of the summer and into its roots. As a pitcher in the San Diego Padres’ farm system, Peavy worked an offseason with the BayBears, the Double-A affiliate of the Friars.
Imagine sitting in your house one December evening and Jake Peavy calls you personally to see if you are buying tickets for the upcoming BayBears’ season. How do you say no?
Unfortunately, it isn’t as easy as that and was, perhaps, a rude awakening for Peavy.
“One of the things Jake thought was easy - he knows a lot of people in this town – he thought ticket selling would be easy,” BayBears general manager Bill Shanahan explained. “It took him quite a while to get his first appointment. The running joke we have is I would definitely have him back as a pitcher but not as a front office man.”
“That was a neat experience,” Peavy said of his time working for the BayBears. “It gave me a new appreciation for all my minor league teams. Just knowing how hard the front office worked. It is a special camaraderie that those guys have and a love for baseball. They try and do their best.”
He would routinely go on sales calls and the BayBears would bring their ace to do the dirty work with his hand. His work with the team wasn’t being done from the mound but instead he was signing baseballs. Had Peavy ever needed a professional resume, signing baseballs would be one entry under his work history.
“He is special to all of us that we had a young man who played his whole career in Mobile,” said Shanahan. “It was quite an experience for the community and Jake. ‘The offseason acquisition of Jake Peavy to be part of the front office staff.’ He had a chance to see what goes on outside the chalk lines. We got a chance to see how a professional minor league player thinks. It was like the old story of the chocolate bar and the peanut bar and they come together and all of a sudden you have a great taste.”
Not only did Peavy work in their offices, he also took the hill in Mobile in August of 2001, going 2-1 in his Southern League debut. He was back to Mobile the following year and went 4-5 with a 2.80 ERA in 14 starts.
Having played both sides of the fence, Peavy knows a thing or two about how hard it is for the BayBears to run their business and appreciates it all the more.
“The only thing that is tough a lot of times is the team, the players are there to do one thing and the front office is there to do another,” said Peavy. “Their job is to promote and they don’t actually own the players rights. You have difficulty there in getting things to coincide as far as player appearances and stuff like that.
“Being my hometown and Bill Shanahan is a great friend and a great businessman as well. I thoroughly enjoyed working there and playing there. Mobile being my hometown, it meant a lot to me to play here and do be able to do well for a little bit in front of some family was special.”
To the staff in Mobile, it seems like just yesterday that Jake Peavy was taking the hill and throwing strikes. Just yesterday that he put down his baseball uniform and reported to work at 9 AM sharp.
It wasn’t long after his experience in the offices of Hank Aaron Stadium that Peavy made his debut with the San Diego Padres. Two years later, he is winning the Major League ERA Championship and a driving force behind the Padres’ success.
Said Shanahan: “The fact that he is doing so great at the Major league level is icing on the cake."