By BRADEN LAYER
---- — For hours, Nick Gardewine's family had kept him on the edge of his seat.
Rested on the couch with his father Ted and grandfather Fran, the elder Gardewines kept mimicking the call that Nick was anxiously anticipating.
"I was sitting down, propped up on my computer," Nick said. "I thought my dad was joking when he said it, he'd been doing it the whole day."
The immediate reaction, when his father exclaimed that he was now a Texas Ranger, drafted 220nd overall in the seventh round of the MLB first-year player draft, was disbelief.
Gardewine shrugged aside the announcement as another one of his father's tools to help keep the atmosphere loose.
Then he looked down at the computer that was resting in his lap, finding his name adjacent to the Ranger logo. Even his father couldn't pull off that elaborate of a ruse.
"I looked down, and I saw he wasn't joking," Gardewine said. "It's a great feeling, obviously. It was a big surprise, I wasn't even ready for it."
Scouts told the right-handed Effingham alumnus, who finished his freshman season with a 9-1 record for Kaskaskia College, that he'd likely be drafted somewhere between rounds eight and 12.
Both the Padres and Mariners called earlier in the morning to discuss their options, but Gardewine said the Rangers weren't one of the teams he expected.
"I never even heard from the Rangers today," he said. "I got one (call) from the Padres, one from the Mariners, talking about early selections to save money for later."
Apparently his pre-draft workout Wednesday in Peoria was enough for Texas. They didn't need to discuss any options, they were ready to make the call even before Gardewine anticipated being picked.
"I left (Peoria) thinking they wouldn't draft me," Gardewine said. "They were talking a little lower money than what we were asking. They ended up offering more."
Though the details of the contract couldn't be divulged, Gardewine, even more so than before the draft, now has quite the decision to make.
He owned a 2.12 ERA for Kaskaskia, helping direct the Blue Devils to their first NJCAA World Series.
"Right now it's a toss-up really," Gardewine said. "I love KC, we have a great team. It's going to be pretty hard to pass up heading back."
Then again, he is one of the top 220 players in America, with a powerful right arm and bright future ahead.
A Rangers scout is set to visit the family later tonight, and should help answer any questions about the lingering decision.
"The decision could be made tonight," Gardewine said. "Every MLB team is a great organization, but Texas has made a name for (itself) the past few years."
He officially can wait until July 12 to decide, but the draft was a memorable selection nevertheless. On the seventh day of June, in the seventh round, on Fran's birthday, Gardewine may have kicked-off a memorable professional career.
Ted can't make that up, either.
Braden Layer can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or at firstname.lastname@example.org