June 18th, 2024

Romero headlines VAB event

By Lethbridge Herald on March 3, 2023.

Herald photo by JUSTIN SEWARD Former Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Ricky Romero is headlining the Vauxhall Academy of Baseball event tonight as the guest speaker.

By Justin Seward

Lethbridge Herald

Former Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Ricky Romero will be talking about his baseball experiences as the guest speaker at the 17th annual Vauxhall Academy of Baseball Jets Home Run Ball! Dinner, Awards and Auction tonight.

The East Los Angeles product was in the Blue Jays organization for 10 years and got his opportunity to pitch at the Major League Baseball level with the Jays for five years beginning in 2009.

Les McTavish of VAB met Romero at a Blue Jays related event last year and he had asked him if he would come and speak at his baseball academy at their annual event.

“Any time that I get a chance to talk, especially to young kids and to the next generation of ball players, you know I think that’s special to me,” said Romero.

“And I know when I was with the Blue Jays and the big leagues, I always tried to stay involved with kids, and clinics and stuff like that. I just love being a part of that type of stuff. And now that I’m retired and when they asked me to come and do these speaking events, I think it’s one you don’t know who you’re going to make an impact for and two you’re out there, you’re helping and you’re making these guys you know believe that it is possible to make it to the big leagues.”

Romero is going to touch on his background, his story and the work ethic.

“I feel like when you get to a certain level of professional baseball, everyone’s kind of like pretty similar level wise,” said Romero.

“It’s do you have the work ethic; do you have the mental part of the game down because that’s what it is. It is a mental grind more than physical. But a lot of these guys can do it physically. I mean 60 feet (or)six inches it doesn’t change in what they do now … But sometimes we make a bigger deal out of things like that. So, it’s just  kind of relaying that message and just making sure you’re working as hard as you can and taken care of that mental part of the game because I feel like that’s very important.”

 Romero grew up in East Los Angeles where the odds were against him to make the big leagues.

“It was one of those things where I was persistent,” he said.

“I didn’t know the big leagues was actually an achievable goal. I think anybody that plays baseball, you imagine yourself in that World Series-type of atmosphere — you imagine throwing the last pitch or hitting a home run to win it all — and I was that young kid in my front yard with my dad playing catch and just thinking like, ‘Oh yeah I’m going to be this pitcher in the big leagues.’ But you don’t know that actually can happen.”

Romero didn’t feel that realization until high school.

“I was a late bloomer,” said Romero.

“I was drafted out of high school by the Boston Red Sox, did not sign, (and) went to Cal State Fullerton on a Division I baseball scholarship, and kind of right there I faced my challenges too.”

Romero ended up not pitching very much in his freshman year and was disappointment in his sophomore year.

“And two guys got hurt in the rotation, I got a shot, and then never looked back,” said Romero.

“And then my stock kind of just started rising from there. We won a national championship that year, played for Team USA, my junior year I came in with high expectations and obviously moved up the draft boards really quick.”

In 2005, Romero was drafted in the first round by the Blue Jays at sixth overall.

“It was a dream come true,” said Romero.

“But also I was like ‘Man, a west coast kid got drafted by the furthest team out east in Toronto.’ So that was a little bit of a shock itself because I did not know much about Canada or Toronto or anything like that. And now here I find myself doing different things all across Canada, whether it’s stuff like this where I come and speak, or through the Blue Jays and I mean it’s a country that I’ve fallen in love with. My wife is Canadian from Toronto.”

Romero made his debut in 2009.

“It was at home,” said Romero.

“It was a getaway game against the Detroit Tigers — getaway game meaning that was the last game of aseries. We were flying to the next city (and) we were finishing up our home stand.

Yeah, you wake up so nervous, you feel like you’re going to puke, you feel anxious, all the feelings, but all the good feelings.”

He was an all-star in 2011.

Romero pitched in 129 games while compiling a 51-45 record and 622 strikeouts.

Romero is busy coaching his kids baseball teams after retiring in 2018.


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