Zobrist, A Wonderful Story

Zobrist, A Wonderful Story February 24, 2019

Read it, it’s a good one:

Ben Zobrist climbed into his 1980 Ford pickup truck and cried. His Eureka High School team had just lost in the 2000 IHSA Class A regionals, but that’s not exactly why he broke down.

“I said: That’s it,” Zobrist recalled. “No more baseball in my life.”

More than 1,400 names had been called in the MLB draft, but not his. Bob Gold, his high school coach, received one recruiting inquiry, from a junior college. Gold told the coach not to bother; Zobrist was headed to Calvary Bible College, a 350-student school in Kansas City, Mo., that didn’t field a baseball team. He would study to become a youth minister or pastor, like his dad.

About three months before classes were to start, Zobrist met with Gold and asked: Do you know anywhere I can play for the summer?

Gold told Zobrist he was too old for American Legion ball. But Gold had a flyer on his desk with information about a showcase. Scouts would be there.

“I thought: One more day,” Zobrist said.

One more day of baseball.

One of the quirks in this story is that the principals differ on where in Illinois the tryout took place and what happened in the moments that followed. They all agree, though, on this: “Ben was that close to not playing again,” Gold said. “It’s crazy.”

Here’s how Zobrist, Gold and Elliot Johnson, then the baseball coach at Olivet Nazarene in Bourbonnais, remember the tryout that kept Zobrist in baseball, ultimately leading to his MVP award in the Cubs’ 2016 World Series championship:

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