Vidalia’s Jake Winston doesn’t miss the stretches without newlywed wife Allie, the long bus rides, the disappointment of not getting into a game.
But there are things he does miss about being a professional baseball player.
“I’m happy where I am,” It’s tough being on the road or on the bus somewhere and not making a lot of money. I was telling Allie that the one thing I don’t miss is moving from central time zone to west coast time zone and back to central time zone. I like being here. I don’t know if I could be any happier now. I love being here, working on the ranch and raising cattle. But I do miss the pressure situations where things are on your shoulder and it’s you against the hitter.”
Winston, who was drafted in the 17th round by Arizona after a standout career at Southern Miss, spent three years in the minor leagues, pitching in the Northwest League All-Star his first year, playing for triple-A Reno, Class A Reno, Visalia, Hillsboro and Kane County.
Winston finished with a career record of 4-5, posting a 4.09 earned run average, striking out 116 batters over 134.1 innings.
He stayed relatively healthy throughout her career.
“The mental part was the true test,” Winston said. “You can be in the best shape with your arms and legs, but if your mind is not heathly you can lose everything. It’s a very mental game.”
And Winston knows the toll the season can take on a Minor Leaguer, which is why he keeps in touch with former teammates.
“I’ll call some of my friends just to talk to them about other things because I know what they are going through and how draining it can be,” he said. “And the dog days of August are just that. There are times you question what you are doing.”
Winston assisted Adams County Christian School baseball coach Matthew Freeman this past season.
He helped Devin and Trey Barnes with a baseball camp last week for area youngsters.
“That was a lot of fun and the kids enjoyed it,” Winston said. “It was awesome to come back where I grew up playing ball and see these kids have as much fun as I did when I was growing up. I was glad to be part of something positive for this area.”
Winston plans on returning as an assistant baseball coach at ACCS, and will be counted on more with Freeman taking the boys basketball head coaching job as well this upcoming school year.
“I think we have a good thing going,” Winston said. “I think we do a good job of teaching the game the way it is supposed to be played. I’m enjoying it. Now five years from now I may say something totally different. But just being out of baseball I am enjoying being able to teach younger players who are eager to learn.”