Hampshire High School graduate Jake Goebbert, a first baseman and outfielder called up by the San Diego Padres last month, played at Wrigley Field for the first time last week in a three-game series against the Cubs. The Padres sent Goebbert back to Triple-A El Paso after Friday’s game in Atlanta. Assistant sports editor Tom Clegg and sports writer Mike DeFabo, who covered the series at Wrigley, discuss:
Clegg: It’s always fun to watch on TV when a local player is on a professional sports team, but you had a chance to see Jake Goebbert up close and personal. What stood out most to you from your interactions with him?
DeFabo: I’d have to say his humility. Each day we talked at length, and I pestered him with every question I could think up. He answered each one honestly and openly, and at the end of the interviews he would thank me. He’s made it big, but that definitely hasn’t changed who he is.
Clegg: He had a lot of family and friends rooting him on at Wrigley Field throughout the series. I would think, for some guys, that could be more of a distraction than a help. What did he think of it?
DeFabo: That’s a good question. Family and friends were definitely out in full force for the series. Thursday, the Cubs were getting beaten so badly they would have stopped the game for a 10-run rule in high school. Almost every Cubs fan left. But behind Goebbert in left field, the bleachers were absolutely packed with supporters, cheering every time he did so much as field a ground ball. Several times Goebbert emphasized how much he appreciated the support. But I think it also put a huge burden on his shoulders to perform well under that pressure. He almost seemed relieved in a way to be going on to Atlanta. (He probably also got sick of seeing my ugly mug every day.)
Clegg: I can understand anyone’s desire to not have to look at you every day. Have you considered a mask? I don’t mean a catcher’s mask, I’m talking Batman. Don’t answer that. But do answer this: What did Goebbert’s teammates think of him?
DeFabo: Jeff Francoeur was one of Goebbert’s closest friends in Triple-A and got promoted for the second game of the series. I didn’t get this into my story Thursday night, but Francoeur said, “It’s good to see good people get rewarded in this game. He’s a great guy. It’s good to see him get rewarded for what he’s done and the hard work he’s put in.”
Clegg: Padres manager Bud Black seems to like Goebbert, too. He mentioned wishing they had an off day while they were in Chicago so they could take a trip out to the Goebbert family farm in Hampshire. That would have been something. Do you think the Goebberts would have given the team a hayride or fired up the mechanical pumpkin-eating dinosaur even though it’s not exactly the right season?
DeFabo: Oh, yeah. They could set the batting cage up in the barn again. Or when the harvest season is done just cut a baseball diamond into one of the cornfields. If you build it they will come.