Steve Delabar will be introduced as an MLB All-Star tonight at Citi Field, but two years ago the Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher was just a substitute teacher, Alejandro Zuniga Sacks of USA Today reports.
From 2004-2009 Delabar toiled in low minor league ball in the San Diego Padres system. The Padres released him but Delabar was not ready to ditch his dream at 25. He caught on with a couple independent league teams and pitched alright until his elbow burst through his skin in a freak pitching incident.
Delabar needed nine screws and a metal plate to reset his arm. Out of professional ball, he worked as a substitute teacher while also coaching a high school baseball team.
“Everything happens for a reason,” Delabar told USA TODAY Sports. “I was OK with moving on and starting a new career in something else.”
All the while Delabar worked to rehab his arm, to surprising results. After months of training, not only was Delabar able to throw again, his fastball was now significantly faster, coming in at 95 mph.
He landed a tryout with the Seattle Mariners and handled it like a champ.
“I wasn’t nervous. I was like, ‘You know what? I have nothing to lose.’ I wanted to go in with a blank mind-set. I didn’t want anything to let me down or build me up so much.”
Delabar, 30, blitzed through Seattle’s farm system in 2011, starting in single-A and making all the way to the majors. He was traded in 2012 and now owns a 1.71 ERA with 58 strikeouts in 42 innings pitched.
Delabar beat out four other relief pitchers to win the American League’s Final Vote to play in the All-Star Game. With a story like his, its easy to see why he’s won fans over.
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