Tag Archives: Washington Wild Things

When Independent Worlds Collide

At first glance, pro wrestling and baseball do not really have a lot in common.

But indy wrestling and indy baseball are a lot more a like than they are different.

For starters, independent wrestling companies have been holding shows in minor league ballparks all across America for many years.

That’s actually where I found out just how similar these worlds are.

Last year during a baseball game, I won tickets to a pro wrestling event being held at the Washington WildThings ballpark. Since the guys were obviously on the road, I figured I’d go check it out. I watched pro wrestling on TV when I was younger, so it wasn’t completely foreign to me; however, I quickly learned that the world of indy wrestling was something I wasn’t really aware of, but it was still oddly familiar all the same.

At that show, I met local indy wrestler JaXon Argos. Because of him, I started going to events he was wrestling in and got to learn all about the grind that is independent wrestling. I instantly felt the same “at home” feeling at shows that I felt at a baseball stadium. The athletes are giving it their all and the fans are 100% behind their favorites. It just made sense to get into the world of indy wrestling.

Indy wrestling and baseball will once again collide at WildThings Park when Argos throws out the first pitch for the Wrestling Night promo game being held on July 26th, the day before Big Time Wrestling comes back to the ballpark.

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Argos talked about why the two worlds can come together so well and why it’s always a win to have him on the card, “Wrestling fans and baseball fans are both passionate about what they’re watching, and they know if they’re not loud, the atmosphere drops. Fortunately for fans of both, I hit a grand slam every time I enter the park or arena so the fans are on their feet at the end of it all anyway! – #2XROTY”

Yes… Argos is a 2 time rookie of the year. I won’t go into the details, but just know that anything can happen in the wrestling world.

From one wrestling Jaxon to another

I put out a question on Twitter asking if anyone who was an indy wrestler had any connections to pro baseball. Before writing this post, I wanted a true comparison of the two from someone who knew both worlds.

Professional wrestler Jaxon Stone answered the inquiry. Stone, who is now wrestling all over on the independent scene, was once a minor league baseball player until he ultimately decided to make the switch.  Here is a little bit of his story:

I started playing baseball at 7. Baseball was my first love. My grandpa played professional baseball, and he was a big influence on me. I played high school ball at Plano West Senior High School where I won All-State awards. I only got one D1 offer which was to South Dakota State.

In my final season at SDSU, I led the squad in all three triple crown categories with a .318 batting average, seven home runs and 34 runs batted in. I was first-team All-Summit League and All-American, and I also led my team with 69 hits, 13 doubles and a .475 slugging percentage, while adding a .992 fielding percentage. I was a three-year starter at first base and finished my Jackrabbit career ranked second in putouts with 1,288.

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But throughout college, I always knew I wanted to be a wrestler. During my senior year, I thought I was going to get drafted but did not. I spent the rest of the summer traveling around attending tryouts. Eventually I got signed to a low-a affiliate of the Atlanta Braves where I played for two months. My career was very short lived, but I was so burnt out.

During that time I realized how much of a grind minor league / indy ball is. All the guys there are chasing a dream, and it creates an amazing atmosphere. But the pay sucks and the travel is brutal. After the season, I didn’t get asked back and decided my baseball career was over. I moved back to Texas and started personal training where I began wrestling training in January of 2015.

I easily figured how similar baseball and wrestling were in terms of making it to the top. Indy wrestling is a grind when you first start. The pay sucks, the travel is hard, but the dream is always there which makes the struggle beautiful. Three years into my career and things are wonderful. I’ve had a WWE tryout, traveled all over the world and the pay and travel are way better now because my job is being a professional wrestler.

Indy ball or indy wrestling, I just love following these guys and watching them grind out doing something they love.

All of these athletes have their careers in their own hands, and while wrestlers have a bit more control, as they also have to sell themselves and be creative – they don’t have an entire minor league team behind them to come up with crazy promotions and ideas – in the end, the more dedicated (and crazier) you are, the better.

Both of these wrestlers are extremely dedicated to their craft. They grind it out and put in the hard work. They put up with minimal pay and tough travel to realize their dreams. That’s not just independent wrestling. That’s not just independent baseball.

That’s the life of an independent athlete.

JaXon Argos and Jaxon Stone are both fantastic follows on social media. If you want to get a little more insight into the world of indy wrestling, I suggest giving them a follow.

Also, if you want to support them or independent wrestling in general, check out their Pro Wrestling Tees stores (Pro Wrestling Tees has hundreds of indy wrestlers who sell their own merch to earn money to continue living their dreams) or go to a local indy wrestling show in your area. They can be found all over the place: in gyms, halls, bars, churches, old schools, fairs and festivals, and yes… even baseball stadiums.

JaXon Argos:

Jaxon Stone:

It’s Not About the Name on the Front…

This past week has been my favorite week of the year for the last few seasons.

My two favorite visiting teams, the Southern Illinois Miners and the Florence Freedom, play back-to-back series against MY “hometown” team the Washington WildThings.

These three teams mean everything to me, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it is that it’s not about the name on the front of the jersey, but the name on the back and the guys that carry that name with them.

Indy ball is full of stories. Every player has one.  That’s why I created this website in the first place… to tell their stories to the world.

Not everyone sees the personal side of independent baseball, but I do.

Here are just a few of the guys that I’ve had the pleasure of seeing this past week here in Washington, Pennsylvania.

The Southern Illinois Miners

Robby Rowland –  I’ve known Robby for over 8 years through social media. He pitched in the Diamondbacks, Pirates, and Cardinals organizations (reaching as high as AA) before landing in indy ball – first with the Lincoln Saltdogs and finally with the Miners. Even though I’ve known him for 8 years, this past week was the first time our schedules have ever lined up allowing me to meet him. He’s quirky, unique, and a super awesome guy. He has his own podcast and blog, the Robby Row Show, and has begun an online coaching program for younger players who want to improve their pitching. He’s a keto athlete who is always posting tips, tricks, advice and motivation for anyone who might just need a little extra push.

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Robby Rowland and his fantastic chart day outfit

Kyle Tinius – Kyle has been with the Miners since he finished college at West Texas A & M in 2016. I’ve watched him grow from the rookie who was always getting picked on in the bullpen who was forced to carry the princess backpack to being the veteran who steps up, takes the rookies under his wing and leads the bullpen fantasy league.  During this past off season, he was also named as Southwestern College’s pitching coach in their inaugural season. The team, based out of Winfield, Kansas, finished 20-26 on the season.

John Werner – John was drafted by the Texas Rangers out of college in 2015. He spent two seasons in the Rangers organization pitching at nearly every level from Rookie ball all the way up to AAA.  After being released following the 2016 season, John signed with the Miners in 2017 and is back for his second season.  He comes in as the team’s all-time saves leader.

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Southern Illinois Miners Bullpen (plus Robby after his start)

Chris Scura – After 18 games in the Atlantic League with the Long Island Ducks after college, Chris became a standout hitter in baseball’s “wild west” the Pecos League. This off season, he went to the California Winter League with one thing in mind, get out of the Pecos forever (signing with the CWL forced that decision) and get signed to a Frontier League team. Player acquisition coordinator, Casey Dill, and manager, Mike Pinto, saw something in Chris and signed him going into the season. He was released during spring training, but was re-signed a few days later after an injury to one of the Miners’ starters.

The Florence Freedom

Austin Wobrock – Austin may be on the Florence Freedom now, but he started his professional baseball career with the WildThings in 2014. An all-star shortstop in 2015, Austin was a dependable member of the squad for three seasons until he was traded to Florence.  Austin was a fan favorite when he was a WildThing… so much so that when two young fans were asked to throw out the first pitch last week, they asked if Austin could catch their pitches even though he was on the visiting team.

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Austin with “Mini Wobrock” his bear from the 2014 WildThings team

Marty Anderson – From the Pecos, to the Frontier, to the Mets organization and back, Marty has had quite a journey over the last couple of years. Marty played with the Garden City Wind in the Pecos League in 2016 before signing and playing one game for Florence later in the year. He returned to Florence in 2017 where he was signed by the Mets in July and finished out the year in their organization.  After being released, he returned to Florence for the 2018 season. And while all of this was taking place last year, Marty was preparing to be a new dad; his son was born during this past off season!

Jameson McGrane – If you’ve read about the disasters of the Empire League in 2016 and the Thoroughbred League in 2017, you’ll understand why Jameson is so thankful to be on the Freedom this year. Two experiences with less than honest indy leagues in some terrible and rough conditions could turn anyone away from indy ball forever, but not Jameson.  He went to the 2018 Frontier League draft and was selected as Florence’s third pick. He is currently working out of the Freedom’s bullpen.

Johnathon Tripp – Johnathon was a Texas Tech Red Raider from 2013-2015 where the Raiders went all the way to the College World Series in 2014.  After completing his senior season at the University of New Mexico, he went on to play for the California City Whiptails of the Pecos League. After being highly recommended, Johnathon signed with the Florence Freedom for the 2018 season where he has held on to a back end of the bullpen spot since spring training.

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Florence Freedom Bullpen

The Washington WildThings

Austin Crutcher – Last year, “Crutch” was a rookie in the White Sox organization. After being released, some young players could become bitter; however, Austin has been the exact opposite. His social media and cheerful attitude at the park has been a breath of fresh air in the cut-throat world of indy ball. Every day, I can log onto Twitter and see encouraging and motivating tweets from @acrutch5. I’ve enjoyed his posts so much that I’ve reached out to Crutch to guest blog soon!

Chase Cunningham – After college, Chase had a short stint with the Lincoln Saltdogs in 2015. During that off season, he was traded to the WildThings and has been a mainstay in the rotation ever since. His nickname in college was “The Franchise”, and he is quickly becoming a franchise player here in Washington. The 2017 Frontier League All-Star is a work horse on the mound, a huge team first player, and one of the nicest guys I’ve met here.  His parents are also in town often, and I love getting to talk baseball with them both.  Also, his girlfriend, Ali, recently took their story to Instagram as part of the “WagsInRealLife” IG stories. Indy ball isn’t easy for the guys, but it definitely isn’t easy for the families behind them either. It’s been a pleasure getting to know everyone in Chase’s world outside of the diamond these last few years.

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Chase Cunningham

Frank Trimarco – Another Pecos League alumni (or survivor… however you want to look at it), Frank played last season with the Tucson Saguaros. There, he caught the eye of the WildThings and was added late in the season last year as they made a final push into the playoffs. From a reliable arm in the bullpen, to a starter when needed, Frank “The Tank” Trimarco has become an integral member of the WildThings pitching staff.

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Frank Trimarco and fellow Saguaro turned WildThing Jake Eaton

Reydel Medina – A native of Cuba, Reydel played on the Cuban Junior National team from 2003-2009 before ultimately defecting in 2011.  He established residency in Haiti and continued to train and play baseball, joining the Dominican Prospect League where he became in All-Star in 2012.  Reydel caught the eye of the Reds and became a top international signing for the organization when he made his professional debut in 2014. Before signing with the WildThings after his release from the Reds organization this year, he spent four seasons in affiliated ball, reaching as high as AA last year.

 

Indy ball is full of stories… those guys on the field play for much more than just the name on the front of their jersey.  I just hope that I can keep bringing that side of the game to readers for many more seasons to come!