MLB draft pick reflects on his journey from Dartmouth to the Yankees
'I just wanted to prove to myself and prove to everybody back home that it's possible for it to happen'
As far as calls about first full-time jobs go, Jake Sanford's was pretty good.
Last week, the Dartmouth, N.S., native and star outfielder for the Western Kentucky University baseball team watched with friends and coaches in the team's clubhouse as he was selected by the New York Yankees in the third round of the Major League Baseball draft.
"When you think baseball, you think of the Yankees," Sanford, 21, said in a phone interview Tuesday from Kentucky.
"Such a big team, such a big organization to be a part of."
It was while watching the draft that he received the call from a Yankees scout informing him he had a job.
"He said, 'Welcome to our organization and you'd better get ready to play some baseball.'"
Proving that it's possible
It was the latest in several years of achievements for Sanford that have led to dreams becoming reality.
Growing up in Nova Scotia, Sanford, like a lot of kids, played ball a few months each year and spent the rest of his time focusing on other sports. But when he graduated from Auburn Drive High School, he headed south of the border to take his shot.
After sending emails to as many junior colleges and NCAA Division II and III schools as he could, it was McCook Community College in Nebraska that offered Sanford the chance to walk on and he ran with that opportunity.
"I just wanted to prove to myself and prove to everybody back home that it's possible for it to happen," he said.
After two years in Nebraska, he was recruited to Western Kentucky where, despite what Sanford called a rough start to the season, he started putting up batting statistics his coach would later call "video game numbers."
As Sanford's numbers continued to climb — he finished the season leading Conference USA in home runs, RBI and batting average and was named a second-team all-American — he started noticing more and more scouts attending games.
"That's when I started to realize it might actually happen this year," said Sanford.
Hoping for the best
There have been several moments since that have driven home for Sanford that it's actually happened, most notably his first trip to the Yankees training facility in Tampa, Fla., where he met star sluggers Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, both of whom are there rehabbing injuries.
"I was sort of like star-struck a little bit," he said.
After a brief return to Kentucky, Sanford heads back to Florida Wednesday for orientation and pre-minicamp before going to play short-season ball for one of the Yankees' minor league affiliates in either Staten Island, N.Y., or Pulaski, Va.
It's all pretty good for a player who said he wasn't even sure if his name would be called as he sat in that clubhouse a week ago.
"I knew I put up a good season," said Sanford. "All I could do was hope for the best and that's what happened."