New Orioles rookie Jeremy Shelby has been around baseball his whole life. And he pretty much has his dad, current Orioles first base coach John “T-bone” Shelby to thank for that one.
A year after Jeremy was born, John Shelby was in baseball, playing center field for the Los Angeles Dodgers. In 1988, the Dodgers made it to the World Series against the Oakland A’s. And in Game 1 of that big series, Kirk Gibson hit that memorable walk-off home run off Dennis Eckersley to seal the win for Shelby’s Dodgers.
The younger Shelby, Jeremy, was in attendance for the memorable shot, all at the age of 1. But he did miss the memorable moment. Why? His mother was changing his diaper in the bathroom when Gibson hit the game-winner.
Even though he missed that moment, Jeremy Shelby still had the chance to be around his dad and around baseball.
“With [Dad] coaching for the Dodgers and the Pirates, I would be around the major league players, and catching batting practice,” Jeremy Shelby told Rex Snider last week on WNST. ” It really helped me in the outfield catching major league balls at the age of seven and all the way growing up. It was a true blessing.”
22 years later, Jeremy Shelby may be reunited with his dad on a regular basis since the Orioles selected T-bone’s son in the 38th round of this year’s amateur draft out of Grambling.
His older brother, John III, was selected by the White Sox in the 2006 draft.
Now, Jeremy Shelby has been hard at work at the Orioles rookie level Bluefield, and is making the most of his opportunities down on the farm. So far so good, says the younger Shelby.
“Bluefield is awesome. For it to be my first year in minor league ball, I’ve got good teammates and we’re making the best of it.”
Shelby got off to a great start in his first at-bat, getting a double.
“I’m starting to see the ball better, and I want to keep getting hits and playing good defense.”
Shelby said he learned a lot from his dad about the game of baseball, either from him or just by watching he and his teammates play the game the way it was supposed to be played.
“Growing up, he didn’t get to see me play that much, but every opportunity he had to teach me the game, he would take me aside and show me what to do.”
Shelby played his college ball at Grambling, where he was a productive bat up and down the lineup. He hit everywhere in the lineup except fourth, and his run productivity was a big asset toward helping Grambling win their first conference title since 1985.
Named to the first team All-SWAC team this year, he has a career .314 batting average in 112 games for the Tigers, scoring 89 runs while driving in 64.
“I helped the team out because I could bat just anywhere in the lineup. I could do a lot of things to help the team. When I got on base, I made the best effort to score and get some runs on the board. The bunt really helped me out my senior year; any way I could get on base. I tried to get on base, and tried to get around to get some runs on the board, and I think my team and my coach appreciated that a lot.”
And he is ready to bring that same approach at the plate to Bluefield and eventually the parent club, the Baltimore Orioles, talking with his dad when he gets to first base.
“I’m trying to do that now, so I’m going to try and keep that approach the best that I can.”
While he may not be talking with his dad at the big league level right now, Jeremy Shelby has been able to talk with his dad just about the current state of the team given its struggles.
“It never really seems to be frustration,” Jeremy Shelby said. “It seems to be more of a process. It’s a maturity process for the Orioles. They’re going to have to go through the season with young players, but when the players start to mature and start to get a hang of the game, success is on its way.”
“It’s just waiting for that year for them start sprouting out and start playing good baseball. They have great players, and the players they have are real talented. They are on their way to having good seasons…I know it’s been awhile. Baseball is a process. Baseball is a game where you have to learn how to fail in order to succeed. You can’t really be frustrated in this game. You have to be optimistic and look to get better every day.”
Snider also asked Jeremy if he knew where his dad got his famous nickname: “T-bone”.
Very few people know where it came from, and unfortunately, Jeremy isn’t one of them either.
“When he first heard it, he hated it. Soon enough, it caught on and now everyone in baseball knows him as ‘T-bone’. There’s no real story to it. It just kind of picked up.”
And what is Jeremy’s nickname? The truth of the matter is, he doesn’t have one yet. But that can change real quickly.
“I have to create my own nickname,” Jeremy Shelby laughed.
Tune into WNST and WNST.net as we track Jeremy Shelby’s path in the Orioles Minor League System!