In early 2012 San Rafael welcomed Minor League baseball to Albert Park, paving the way for Ross to fulfill a dream shared by so many young athletes.
Tell us about your life today.
I pitch professionally for the Sonoma County Grapes of the North American League, and I consider that a privilege. I live in San Francisco with a former Occidental College teammate and an old Marin Academy friend, Jimmy Parrinello (fellow member of the Class of 2007). Baseball has been my dream and passion since childhood and at twenty-three I’m living out that dream. There has been a lot of hard work and sweat, and with no guarantees for tomorrow. I’ve seen some talented teammates and opponents released and sent home. Along the way I’ve met some great people who have great personal stories. My teammates come from all over the map (Alabama, New York, Japan), and my pitching coach, Albie Lopez, spent eight years as a pitcher in the major leagues. I’ve pitched against a 38-year old outfielder who played with Ichiro Suzuki in the Japanese Major Leagues, a 32-year old Cuban defector, and even Eri Yoshida, a 20-year old Japanese knuckleball-throwing woman! She’s the first woman to record a professional hit in baseball history, and the bat she used is on exhibit at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. It doesn’t get much better than that. Or maybe it does – did I mention that we play our road games in Hilo and Maui?
How does the North American League fall into the Minor League system?
The North American League is an independent professional minor league with six teams in Texas, two in northern California and two in Hawaii. That means it is not formally affiliated with Major League Baseball. Therefore, the team I play for is not ‘under’ a team like the Giants. I’m told that the North American League is roughly the equivalent of high-A minors. Most players in our league have had minor-league experience and several spent time on Major League rosters. It’s an ideal league for players looking to be picked up by MLB teams.
As a pitcher in the North American League, you’re back at Albert Park (MA’s home field) in San Rafael. Tell us about what it’s like to play there again.
When my dad emailed me a Marin IJ article about the possible formation of a professional baseball team playing at Albert Park, I told myself that, if it ever happened, I would try out. At the time, I was working as a leasing consultant in Oakland. After the formal announcement, I started training hard – several nights a week, after work, I spent an hour or so pitching alone in the poorly-lit garage beneath my office building, throwing into a net. I made contact with ex-Giants pitcher Jesse Foppert, who worked with me on my off days. Lo’ and behold, I made the team!
Stepping back on the mound at Albert Park for the first time in five years was like stumbling upon that old song you used to love and suddenly it becomes your favorite again. It brought back all the memories of MA baseball – my buddy (still today!) Wyatt Hayman ’07 patrolling center field, Abe Fine ’06 at shortstop, and Adam Lewis’06 on the mound beating University in the semifinal, and my personal favorite, my teammates piling on top of each other after we won the 2007 BCL title. You know that old saying, “There’s no place like home . . .”
Who from MA made the most significant impact on who you have become as an adult (classmate, teacher, coach, etc).
Several teachers at MA made a profound impact on me. My science teacher, Randi Martin, taught me how to find a way to succeed – to be resourceful! – and that there is NOT only one “right way.” That is true on the pitcher’s mound, and in life. Peter Poutiatine, my journalism teacher, taught me how to have fun. Writing a humor column for the MA Voice was always my favorite. Beyond the classroom, Peter was a friend, a confidant, and a phenomenal mentor. And Bodie Brizendine, MA’s former head of school, was one of the best leaders I’ve ever known. In her understated way, she walked into a room and took command. She was the glue to Marin Academy during my years. Her smile, sense of fun, and her integrity were awesome.
Looking back on the classes that you took at MA, which one had the greatest impact on you and why?
It wasn’t so much a single class as a single subject – Spanish. If you bat .300 (three for ten) in baseball, you go to the Hall of Fame – which means I probably belong in the M.A. Spanish Hall of Fame for getting 30 percent scores on some of my tests. I’d like to thank the Spanish department for teaching me how to struggle . . . with grace . . . and to emerge better and stronger, and with a deeper understanding of the language and of myself. Shout outs to Glenn Stanfield and Anayansi Aranda-Yee!
Describe your perfect day.
Game Day, Ross Pomerantz on the hill.
Ross and the Sonoma County Grapes closed out the 2012 season with a win vs the first place San Rafael Pacifics on Sunday, August 12. Check out http://grapesbaseball.com/ for more on the North American League.
Interested in being in the spotlight? Send me an email!