CHEERS to every little kid’s dream coming true.
At 1:37 p.m., last Tuesday, it happened for Methuen’s Jacob Wallace.
Wallace played for his hometown Little League, the Methuen High Rangers, and most recently the University of Connecticut. With Tuesday’s phone call, he was given his next assignment, the Colorado Rockies organization and the world of professional baseball.
“It was always a dream, and I never lost hope in it,” Wallace told reporter Kyle Gaudette as he and his family celebrated at the Hampstead House on Tuesday night. “But I never really realized the true odds and how minuscule the chances are … and I’m glad nobody told me.”
Not that it would’ve mattered to someone so singularly focused on playing pro ball.
Wallace went relatively high in last week’s major league draft. He was taken in the third round, the 100th overall pick. Details of his new contract weren’t divulged but estimates of the value of his selection, based on his place in the draft, were higher than $580,000.
That goes to show the value of a standout closer, and grant you, someone who has done a lot more than just dream about baseball. Wallace fires a fastball at 95 mph but has brushed three digits. He did right by his team in the college postseason, striking out 12 of 15 batters he faced in two games against Oklahoma State. The Huskies’ season ended in the NCAA regionals but Wallace finished the year with a 0.64 ERA from 42 innings of work.
Soon enough, he’ll get his ticket from the Rockies, likely to a destination slightly less exotic than Denver, perhaps Asheville, North Carolina, or maybe Boise, Idaho. Such are the paths of big-league dreams.
And he’s not alone. Sebastian Keane, still wrapping up his North Andover High School education, went a few rounds later in the draft. The Red Sox took Keane in Round 11, as the 347th overall selection.
“Getting that call today was the greatest feeling I’ve ever had,” Keane told Gaudette. “… Everyone’s dream is to make it to the MLB, and I got drafted, so it’s just an incredible feeling.”
Congratulations to Wallace, Keane and other athletes with Merrimack Valley roots and connections who got a call last week (including Central Catholic grad Cam Devanney, selected in the 14th round by the Milwaukee Brewers, and Lawrence High grad Elvis Peralta Jr., taken in the 26th round by the A’s). Congratulations also to their families, friends, coaches and supporters who made their success possible.
CHEERS to a little warmth at the end of hockey season.
Heading into Game 6 on Sunday night, the Boston Bruins had scored 16 goals in their best-of-seven, Stanley Cup Final series against the St. Louis Blues. That’s good for 1,600 deluxe fleece blankets from Benton Blankets, a company founded by North Andover’s Max Perry and now based in Middleton.
The blankets are bound for the New England Center and Home for Veterans, on Court Street in Boston, where about 250 former service members sleep every night.
Perry, who started Beantown Blankets with his mother, pledged to give the center 100 blankets for every Bruins goal scored during the series. His “buy one, gift one” company sends a blanket to a shelter for every one purchased from its website. As the Stanley Cup Final has stretched on, the veterans center has gotten real windfall.
The arrangement has given the staff there some passion, not that they weren’t ardent Bruins fans to begin with. “Of course our staff is cheering loudly for the Bruins,” C.J. Beck, at the center, told reporter Judy Wakefield. “It’s a win for us every time they score.”
Of course, there aren’t enough deluxe fleece blankets in this world to warm Bruins fans’ feelings toward certain people wearing black and white stripes. But everyone can get behind taking care of those who’ve served this country.
It’s yet another reason to cheer for the B’s.