Ross Wolf was much closer to working from a desk, eight hours a day, than he let on.
The former Newton baseball player, who was a major part of the Eagles’ 2001 Class A state championship, was going to “suck it up” for one more year in the Texas Rangers’ minor league system, last spring, and then retire.
The year went better than he expected, getting called up to the Rangers and pitching in a career-high 22 games and 47.2 innings, giving him a new life in baseball.
He will not be playing for the Rangers next season; in fact, he’s leaving North America. Wolf opted out of his major league contract in December to take an opportunity in the Korea Baseball Organization.
Wolf signed a contract with the SK Wyverns — located in Incheon, South Korea — a team that finished sixth in the Korean League last season. He declined to discuss the details of his contract, but said the move is as much about the experience as it is the money.
“It’s a good chunk,” he admitted. “It was something I needed to do. I’m 31 (years old) and to get back into the big leagues, from the minors, like I did this year, is going to be hard.”
Wolf benefited from some luck last season in getting to the big leagues, when the Rangers brought him up from Triple-A Round Rock for a start against the Oakland A’s.
The Rangers scratched starting pitcher Nick Tepesch because of a blister and called up Wolf, who was the scheduled starter for the minor league team.
He pitched five innings in a 3-1 win for the Rangers, making his timely luck count for his first major league win in his first career start.
Wolf stayed with the major league team for much of the second half of the season, pitching in 22 games with a 1-3 record and 4.15 ERA.
The newfound major league success pulled Wolf away from the idea of retiring, so he re-signed with the Rangers in November with an invite to spring training.
The Rangers included a clause in the contract that allowed Wolf to opt out if he had options overseas — possibilities he’d heard about from current and former teammates, including Yu Darvish.
Darvish, a Rangers starting pitcher and two-time American League All-Star, began his career in the Japanese professional league. Both he and his translator said it could be a great opportunity for Wolf.
“His translator was awesome,” Wolf said. “I kind of picked his brain about it. He said, ‘When you’re 50, you’ll be glad (you did it).’”
Wolf received an offer quickly, so he and his wife made a decision overnight. They both agreed it would be a great experience; in fact, he said his wife is the most excited.
He will be a starter for the Wyverns, which he recently learned is the name of a mythological dragon, and that’s the position he loves to play.
“The last 13 spring trainings, I’ve been going in as a reliever,” Wolf said. “This year when (Texas) made me a starter, I loved it.”
The 31-year-old admitted that the move to Korea likely spells the end of his Major League Baseball career and said he enjoyed his time with the Rangers organization.
He spent several months playing for a first-place team, which exceeded his expectations going into last season.
“(The organization) said, ‘You were awesome and we’re going to miss you,” Wolf remembered. “They took care of my family.”
In moving overseas, Wolf hopes to continue taking care of his family. He said his goal is to retire happily and watch his kids — a four-year-old son and 14-month-old daughter — grow up, after finishing his career.
Wolf isn’t looking forward to the 12-hour plane ride to South Korea, but he’ll just have to suck it up one more time.
Alex McNamee can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or email@example.com.
Newton alum signs with SK Wyverns
Ross Wolf was much closer to working from a desk, eight hours a day, than he let on.
Comeback win keeps Post 20 alive in 10-7 win
Newton Post 120 didn’t let a 4-1 deficit get to them against Highland Post 439, using a patient approach in the face of an elimination game.
Three bases-loaded walks in the bottom of the third tied the game at 4-4, and with the bases loaded down 5-4 in the fourth, Tim Weber broke the game open with a two-run double and an error.
By the time the dust settled, Newton led 10-5 heading to the sixth inning and would hold on to a 10-7 win to keep its season alive.
Salem deals Newton first divisional loss
Mitch Bierman started off Newton Post 20’s game against Salem Post 128 with a bang Sunday afternoon, hitting a leadoff triple and scoring on the next batter.
Post 20’s offense didn’t follow his lead from there, as Newton had just three more hits and no runs, and falling in a Junior Legion Fifth Division winner’s bracket game to Salem 12-1 in seven innings.
Newton Post 20 bests Belleville Post 58 in opener 6-1
After a 9-3 loss to Breese Post 252 Gray Monday night, Newton Post 20 coach John Grunloh predicted the five-day break until the Junior Legion Fifth Division tournament would be good for his players, especially his pitchers.Mitch Jansen proved his coach right, spinning a gem in Newton's opener Saturday afternoon as Post 20 made short work of Belleville Post 58 6-1.
Hearts to prep with Mattoon 7-on-7
Two weeks ago, Effingham was supposed to start shaking off the rust with a 7-on-7 football tournament in Mattoon. Naturally, it rained and was canceled.
So Saturday, the Flaming Hearts will head up to Mattoon and play their first 7-on-7 event of the season, taking part in an 10- team field with Mattoon, Rochester, Robinson, Marshall, Cahokia and Pleasant Plains from Illinois, with Terre Haute North and Northview coming from Indiana. Rochester is bringing two squads.
Newton Post 20 plays Belleville Saturday
With the District 23 tournament behind them, Newton Post 20 now knows its fate for the Fifth Division Junior Legion tournament this weekend in Bethalto.
Newton will play Belleville Post 58 at 2:45 p.m. Saturday afternoon in Bethalto, in the third game of six on the day.
Effingham's season comes to a close with 11-1 loss to Salem
A 1-0 lead for Effingham Post 120 rapidly evaporated, and the post’s Junior Legion season came to an end with a 11-1 loss in five innings to Salem Post 128 Tuesday night.
The game was for the final spot of District 23 in the divisional tournament, with Newton Post 20 and Breese Post 252 Gray punching their tickets by winning their district divisions.
Newton Post 20 falls short against Breese Gray 9-3
While the District 23 title ultimately exceeded Newton Post 20’s grasp, their season will continue in Bethalto.
Newton took on Breese Post 252 Gray for the Junior Legion District 23 title as the two division winners, but Breese’s bats proved too much for Newton in an 9-3 loss for Post 20.
“The innings where they put some runs on us, we gave them some extra outs,” said Newton coach John Grunloh. “You’ve got to make the plays when you play better teams.”
Barnes' one-hitter boosts Post 120; Effingham beats Dieterich 1-0
Ryan Barnes hasn’t seen a lot of time with Effingham Post 120’s junior legion team this season, but he showed up in a big way Monday night in a 1-0 win over Dieterich Post 628.
The win kept Effingham’s season alive one more day in the Junior Legion District 23 tournament, as the post will face Salem Post 128 at 5:30 p.m. today for the district’s final spot in the divisional round. Salem Post 128 downed Mt. Vernon Post 141 1-0 in the West Division loser’s bracket, setting up the final with Effingham today.
Newton Post 20 tops Effingham Post 120 7-5 late
Most of the games at the Junior Legion District 23 tournament have seen pitching take control, but the pitchers in Sunday night's Effingham Post 120/Newton Post 20 game faced an uphill battle.
While Brock Mammoser started the game for Post 20 on the hill and struggled, he came through with the biggest hit in the game, putting Newton up for good in a 7-5 win over Effingham.
Dieterich Post 628 eliminates Teutopolis Post 924 3-2
Errors proved to be Teutpolis Post 924's undoing against Dieterich Post 628, as Dieterich's sixth-inning rally in an 3-2 win were boosted by three Teutopolis errors
To lead off the sixth, Trenton Poe reached on an error by Brock Bueker, and came around to score on an infield single by Ryan Radloff with a throwing error on Bueker. Poe was already on third when the ball went in the Teutopolis dugout, awarding Poe home to tie the game.
Bryce McClain followed with an RBI single to score Radloff and put Post 628 up for good. Dieterich scored again on a Briar Schmidt groundout where first baseman Brant Bueker tried to get an inning-ending out at second, but the throw was wild and brought home McClain.
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