Last week in this space, I wrote about Chadd Hartman and his Portland Beavers jersey. Shortly afterward, Hartman contacted me, and the next day I dispatched that jersey from Oregon to Florida. This week, Hartman answered a few of my questions via e-mail ...
Rob: In June 2009 you're drafted, you sign with San Diego, and you report to the Padres' farm team in Eugene, Oregon. A few days later they ship you to Fort Wayne, Indiana. After a few games there, it's back to Eugene -- actually, a road series in Boise -- and then a few weeks later you're summoned to the Padres' Triple-A Portland club, then playing in Salt Lake City and racked by a flu epidemic. And after a few days with the Beavers, it was back to Eugene. This all happened in less than a month. Was it just a blur, Chadd? Did you ever have a chance to catch your breath? Was it fun ... or were you too busy traveling and working on your game to really enjoy yourself?
Chadd: The whole process was a little overwhelming at first. Having gone to college helped me out tremendously because it helped me manage my time, set my priorities, and get used to traveling long hours on either a bus or a plane. It was difficult to get settled into one place, but I was having so much fun playing and meeting new friends along the way that I didn't think twice about living out of a suitcase.
Rob: I'm particularly curious about your short Triple-A stint. Was it odd, parachuting into a team loaded with guys with long professional careers? When you left the Beavers, did the clubhouse guy or someone give you any souvenirs of your time with the club?
Chadd: When I was called up to Triple-A I was a little nervous, but the excitement I had outweighed the butterflies in my stomach. The players on the Triple-A team were extremely helpful as they were once in my shoes, not too long ago. They gave me a few pointers and tips to help me succeed through the minors. I wanted to play but I didn't expect to actually get in the game or games. I didn't really ask the clubhouse manager for souvenirs. I was able to keep the hat, the gym shorts, and the bat with which I got my hit.
Rob: Do you have a favorite memory from your one summer of professional baseball?
Chadd: My first professional hit. A home run. We were playing the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes in Eugene. The pitcher fell behind in the count 3-0, I think, and he grooved a fastball and I just got good wood on it and it went over the right-center wall. As I was rounding first, I couldn't believe what had just happened. Everything just felt so right. I couldn't have been happier to be welcomed into professional baseball.
One year later, Chadd Hartman is selling cars at Central Florida Chrysler Jeep Dodge and coaching two youth travel teams. Chadd writes, "My younger brothers play on these teams, and I'm doing whatever I can to help them to get into college, or perhaps drafted."