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April 27, 2006

Growing up in the small town of Albany, Ohio, Jake Hale overcame the challenge of being discovered for the chance to play professional baseball. The Cleveland Indians drafted Hale straight out of high school but he was unable to commit because of injury. He decided to attend Ohio State, keep his head in the game, and hope to get drafted again once he becomes eligible. Although he loves pitching, if he had to change he would love to be the catcher, “They get a whole different look at the field. They see everything,” the 6-foot-7-inch freshman pitcher said. He keeps his head up and is determined to be the best he can be and someday play professional baseball.

What was it like to be drafted by the Indians out of high school?
“That day was very interesting and very exciting. My whole family and high school coach were together. It was an incredible feeling. It was the most incredible feeling in the world. It’s just not as expected from a kid coming out of a small town and a small high school. I wish everybody could experience it. But since I got injured last summer it was a huge setback and the only reason why I didn’t go on was because I couldn’t pass the physical. I was going to try and go play. I had my heart set on that but I had to do what was best for me.”

If you could be drafted by any team who would it be?
“I don’t have a personal favorite but if I had to pick I would pick the (Cincinnati) Reds because they’re so close to home. My friends and family could come watch me all the time.”

What is your favorite baseball movie?
“The Rookie. That was a great movie. It was very intense for me.”

What was your favorite class in grade school?
“My favorite class then is math and it still is my favorite. I’m really good with numbers. I remember numbers off the top of my head.”

If you could play a different position on the field, which would you prefer?
“I’d love to play catcher. That’s a very intense position. They have a whole different look at the field. The catcher sees everything. There’s nothing behind him. It’s a tough spot but I’d really like to do that.”

If you could live anywhere where would you want to live?
“I’ve had a lot of experience in traveling. I traveled a lot during my high school career going to different baseball things. I got the chance between my eighth grade and freshman year of high school to go to Australia. I got to play in Sydney. It’s so clean. It’s a whole different world down there. The people are totally different.”

What advice would you give kids who want to start playing baseball?
“Once you start, don’t stop. You have to have total determination. It’s a game of failure, but 7 out of 10 times you’re going to fail and if that’s all you’re going to fail, you’re doing well. Don’t let anything get you down and have confidence in yourself even through tough times.”

What was the most difficult thing to learn about playing baseball?
“Coach has harped on it and I’ve been told my whole life to have poise. Coach describes that as having the power to control what your body does and your emotions. That’s a big thing that we go through here. You can’t get rattled out there. You have to just go pitch by pitch. If you mess up earlier, it’s really hard not to take it out onto the field. But you have to learn to work through that.”

Who was your biggest influence on baseball when growing up?
“My dad was a huge influence. He’s helped me through everything from then up until now. My dad got to play a little bit of pro ball over in Europe but not much because he was over in Vietnam.”

Do your teammates give you a hard time for anything?
“Not really. They give me a hard time but they like to see me dance. They say I’m pretty much the best dancer they’ve ever seen.”

If you could play any other sport, what would you want to play?
“I really like basketball. But I’ve always wanted to play soccer. It’s a very intense sport and there were always big rivalries back in high school. Soccer would be a lot of fun.”