Story and Photos by Gordy Jones
Persistence Paid off for Andrew Albers
Andrew is from North Battlefield, Saskatchewan, Canada. He began playing catch with his dad as a toddler, and got into organized ball when he was 7. He was drafted by the San Diego Padres in 2008 after playing college ball at Kentucky. He had a short-lived career in the Padres minor league system before needing Tommy John surgery. After recovering from the surgery, Andrew couldn’t catch a break with any professional teams. He continued to work hard, and began pitching in an independent league, just to get some playing time in. He began having some success. But it seemed that no pro team wanted to take a chance on him. Andrew’s agent was calling everybody in baseball, just looking for a tryout. Andrew picks up the story from here: “Yeah, I’ve definitely had some ups and down over the last few years. I had to face a little bit of adversity. It’s true — I drove all over the country. I drove from my home in Canada to some open tryouts in Arizona. From there I flew to Lexington, then back to Arizona. They didn’t work out. Then I ended up making the drive to Fort Myers to see the Twins. And really, it’s a matter of being persistent, and trying not to give up, and for me, it has really paid off.”
I asked him: in his pursuit of a job, how many miles had he put on his Buick? I knew it was a Buick because it has been talked about on radio talk shows. He belted out a good laugh and said, “Ha, ha! Yes it is a Buick. Apparently that has gotten around pretty quick. I probably put about 10,000 miles on it last summer, alone. So there have been many hours with me and my little Buick there; we had a good time together, and luckily she got me through everything, so that was nice.”
Andrew is a good ballplayer and a gentleman. I was curious whom he credits for that. He replied, “There is no question, it all starts at home. My family has been huge in my development, both my mom and dad. My dad got me into baseball and coached me until I was 18-years-old. Without him, I’m not where I am today. There is no question about that. I’ve been very fortunate to have had some great coaches along the way: Gary Henderson in college, and there are many others. I’ve been so fortunate and blessed to have people like that around me; because without all of them, and without the support from home, I’m not where I am today.”
When asked if he has had the jitters before pitching in a place like Target Field, he replied: “It hasn’t all sunk in yet, you know…the level we’re at now. Ignorance is kind of bliss. It’s just another game; you go out there and try to approach it that way. And when someone steps into the box, I just try to find a way to get him out, and that’s how it is. That is how I’m trying to approach it right now.”
Andrew is a lucky guy! He said that baseball is his favorite hobby, and now it’s his career as well. He also loves reading, especially mystery suspense novels, likes playing video games, and can’t pass up a good steak with mashed potatoes. He is looking forward to visiting all of the major league cities, and trying their best steaks.
I wish Andrew Albers the best, because the second time around the majors is the toughest. Now the opposing teams have film on you, and detailed scouting reports, as well as the player’s memories. And with an 86-mile-per-hour fastball, Andrew is not one to blow anyone’s lights out. But with his ability to pitch smart and with finesse; as he changes speeds and locates the corners with accuracy, and with his talent, maturity, leadership skills, and good clubhouse mannerisms, he could be the shot in the arm that the Twins need.