Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL


January 7, 2014

'One more year' pays off for Wolf

Newton alum signs with SK Wyverns

NEWTON — 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 alex.mcnamee@effinghamdailynews.com.

Text Only
  • czachorskimug.jpg Czachorski: Time to catch Cup fever

    I woke up early Friday morning and did something I never do these days -- I flipped on SportsCenter.
    It was the top of the 7 a.m. hour, and unshockingly, ESPN led with discussion of the playoffs.
    What left me flabbergasted was they were leading with the NHL playoffs, as I was truly unaware ESPN remembered that hockey was a sport.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • White2.jpg Indians' bats too much for Eagles

    An 11 a.m. start on Good Friday wasn't too early for Altamont, as the Indians pushed 10 across in the first frame and bested Newton 16-1 in five innings.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Schultz.jpg Power surge: Homers help Shoes beat Comets 8-4

    Teutopolis broke open a close game with four home runs and remained undefeated with an 8-4 win over Stew-Stras/Windsor Thursday afternoon.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Cutts.jpg Cutts carries Cumberland to 4-3 win

    His first three hits were no doubters, but Blayke Cutts’ fourth hit on Thursday was a high bouncer over the glove of Olney third baseman Peyton Billington to win in a walk-off.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • McNamee.jpg McNamee: Questions about EIU's Jimmy G

    The typical phrase used in situations like this, I think, is: “He shows potential.” I may not have believed anything I was saying, but at least he was in line to be a four-year starter; at least, he had that.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Booker.jpg Pirates push past Flaming Hearts 10-2

    It took a bit for the bats to warm up, but Cumberland made the necessary adjustments at the plate and took down Effingham 10-2 Wednesday afternoon.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • Bohnhoff.jpg Newton walks off against Dieterich

    For the second straight game, Newton earned a win via the walkoff, this time as Caleb Chesnut drove in the game-winning run with two outs to down Dieterich 5-4.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Niebs.jpg Walsh, Bulldogs fend off Newton 17-8

    Makayla Walsh played the role of starter and stopper.
    She relieved St. Anthony pitcher Jenna Woltman, who was struggling to locate her pitches, and stopped the bleeding during a four-run fourth inning.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Foreman.JPG Flaming Hearts handle Olney

    Effingham cruised to its second dual win of the year, taking all nine matches from Olney Tuesday afternoon.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hearts 5th, St. A 8th at Troy

    Effingham went 3-1 at the Troy Triad Invitational Saturday to earn fifth place overall, while crosstown counterpart St. Anthony went 1-3 and finished eighth.

    April 14, 2014

AP Video

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.