Every night, Jared Price plays in front of 10,000 screaming fans. Not bad for a kid whose hometown only has 5,645 people. Price is in the ninth year of his pro baseball career, and he’s loving every minute of it.
In the spring of 2000, handfuls of Major League Baseball scouts descended on Minico High School to watch the Idaho Gatorade Player of the Year and All-America selection bat over .600, hit 17 home runs, and lead the Spartans to a second-place state tournament finish.
Now, eight years later, Price continues to live a boyhood dream of playing baseball for a living. He has traveled across the country playing catcher with three major league organizations.
“It’s not like your normal nine-to-five, but it’s still a lot of hard work,” he says. “Most people only see what happens from 7 to 10 o’clock – they only see what happens on the field during a game between commercials. But there’s a lot more to it. It’s a lot more work than you’d imagine. Playing a game for your job is fun, but it’s not easy.”
Price graduated with honors from Minico High and was drafted in the seventh round by the Los Angeles Dodgers. After a pair of successful seasons in the minor leagues, Price was invited to major league preseason camp in 2003, where he worked out with the Dodgers’ big league players.
“Going to Major League Baseball camp is one of the funnest times you’ll have in baseball,” Price says. “It’s fun being able to play with guys you see on TV. Just being around them and learning from them is always exciting.”
But the road hasn’t always been glamorous for Price. In July of 2003, he suffered a shoulder injury that required surgery and forced him to miss the rest of the season. It was a discouraging blow to the promising up-and-comer. But he worked hard to rehabilitate and get back in the game.
“When you come back from (an injury) like that, it makes you enjoy the game more,” he says. “It reminds you to not take for granted what you have and it makes you appreciate the ability to go out there and play every day.”
Price was picked up by the Kansas City Royals in 2005 and was assigned to their triple-A team – just one step away from the majors. In 2007, Price joined the Long Island Ducks, an independent franchise. Toward the end of the season, Price came on strong, hitting 11 home runs and 35 RBI. In his best game, Price hit 3-for-4 with two home runs and tied the Ducks’ all-time single-game record with seven RBI.
After the 2007 season, however, Price’s baseball future was up in the air because he was a free agent. Finally, the Chicago White Sox called and offered him a contract. Right now he’s in Alabama playing for Chicago’s double-A affiliate, the Birmingham Barons (the same team basketball great Michael Jordan had a stint with in 1994).
“I definitely feel fortunate,” Price says. “It’s amazing and it’s fun. I’ve seen a lot of the country. It’s a job, and you have to think of it that way, but I still get the stomach jitters before a game. I still love to go out there and just play.”
In such a competitive business, Price’s longevity attests to his drive and determination. While he hasn’t reached his goal of playing in the big leagues, he knows that his baseball career has already been a success.
“I’m happy that I’m able to still play, but there’s still that part of me that’s driving me to still want to make it to the big leagues,” he says. “I can’t say that I’m disappointed in my career because I haven’t made it to the big leagues, because I’m not. I’m happy with what has happened. I think I’ve had a good career. If it ends, I’ll go back to college and everything will be fine. I’ll just keep playing as long as I can.”
Through baseball, Price has learned valuable lessons that anyone can apply to life, whether you’re a pro athlete, an accountant, a school teacher, or a farmer.
“It takes a lot of hard work, determination, and you have to be strong-willed. You can’t give up after being knocked down, you have to keep getting back up,” Price says. “You gotta have a crazy love for the game – it’s a passion where you don’t want to do anything else besides play that game.”