Texas League Connections
Whenever the four of us in the media department started the season, we didn’t anticipate having personal connections with people in the Texas League. However, all of us do and here are our stories.
I was born and raised in Tyler, Texas, a town of about 100,000 people that sits halfway between Dallas and Shreveport, Louisiana. It’s also home to the University of Texas at Tyler which is how I’m connected to Texas Rangers’ scout and one of Frisco’s coaches James Vilade. Vilade coached at UT-Tyler and in 2007 when they had their 37-1 season, I remember it being on the news everywhere. One of the guys I went to high school with played for Vilade the last season he coached at UT-Tyler. My brother also played for Vilade when he coached one of the Dallas Patriots baseball teams.
When I went to professional umpire school in 2010, I got to know Texas League umpire Nick Bailey. He is the crew chief of one of the umpiring crews (he and his crew will be coming back to Frisco shortly). On the final day of umpiring school, you will find out if you will get the chance to compete for a professional job. Well, after having a little bit of fun with me, Nick was the guy that told me I would have a chance to go pro. Needless to say, it was a pretty emotional moment. And yes, we hugged it out.
My first job in baseball was as an assistant broadcaster for the Advanced-A Salem (Va.) Avalanche of the Carolina League in 2007. Back when I was in Salem, it was affiliated with the Houston Astros. During the season, a 23-year old middle infielder named Tim Torres was promoted from Single-A Lexington and helped the Avs earn a second half playoff berth. Tim was a quiet guy, but good to chat with and be around. I always remembered him as one of my favorite guys on the team and was happy to see him with the Tulsa Drillers when Opening Day rosters were announced. Now 28 and on his third organization, Tim is playing mostly outfield this season. We had a chance to catch up a bit when the Drillers were in Frisco and he is still the same thoughtful person I remembered from years ago in the Roanoke Valley. Last season he played for the Marlins’ Double-A and Triple-A affiliates and said it’s been “kind of a crazy career.” Not too many players from that ’07 Salem team are still playing in affiliated ball, so it was great to see a link from my past joining the present here in the Texas League.
When the season began I didn’t think that I would have a connection to a player in the Texas League. It wasn’t until I was looking into Nick Schmidt’s background for the video interview that I realized that I did. Schmidt, who pitches for the Tulsa Drillers, is from St. Louis, MO, where I was born and raised. He also went to Vianney High School, which is a rival of the High School (Chaminade) that I went to for 9th and part of 10th grade before moving here. My brother-in-law also graduated from Vianney two years before Nick did.