NEWBERRY, S.C. - Sometimes your moment of opportunity is splashed all over TV, Internet, and newspaper headlines. Sometimes it comes more quietly via a private phone call. And worst of all, on occasion, it never comes.
If you're a baseball hopeful with pro ambitions, you expect your moment of truth to come during the two days of the amateur draft, which was held this year on June 6 and 7.
Jared Locke got his fateful phone call on June 8.
His omission from the draft had nothing to do with his talent level; instead, a case of mistaken identity and poor tracking by baseball's brass contributed to the Inman native going undrafted.
On day one, lefthanded prep star Jeffrey Locke was taken 51st overall, and at that point the Rangers and Mets (two teams that had expressed special interest in Newberry's Locke), and the rest of Major League Baseball, crossed any reference to "J. Locke" off their lists.
Aside from pitching left-handed, the two Lockes have few things in common. Jared is a good four years older, four inches taller, and forty pounds heavier than Jeffrey, who hails from a New England high school and will be a project for the Braves. But when you're dealing with a corporate cattle drive that involves more than 1,500 youngsters--college and high school, national and international--such mix-ups can happen.
So after day two of the MLB draft had come and gone--the day that many expected Jared Locke's name to be called--Locke got a call from the Rangers.
"They asked me, 'Is this ... Jared Locke?'," Locke recounted the conversation.
"Yes, this is Jared.
'Were you drafted on Tuesday?'
'We saw that J. Locke had been drafted, and so we dropped your name off our watch list. Are you sure you didn't get drafted?'
Uhh ... I'm sure I didn't get drafted."
Once Locke had assured the Rangers representative, he received his assignment. Locke's surprise phone call will take him in the coming days to--where else?--Surprise, Arizona, to play in the Arizona rookie ball league for the Rangers farm team. With a good showing there, the Rangers expect him to advance to their Spokane single-A team in the near future.
Before you go out and buy that "J. LOCKE" replica jersey, make sure it's a JARED Locke uni.