(Joliet, IL) – Hector Pellot and Jake Renshaw left the Slammers on July 30, 2012. They were both in Joliet for a little more than a year, but they both will be remembered by Slammers baseball fans forever.
Pellot is a 25-year old second baseman from Cidra, Puerto Rico. He was selected by the New York Mets out of the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy in the fourth round of the 2005 MLB draft. He hit .500 for the Slammers in the playoffs last season and was named a Frontier League All-Star this year.
Renshaw is a 26-year old right-handed pitcher from Elk Grove, California. He was selected by the Chicago Cubs out of Ventura College in the 10th round of the 2006 MLB draft. He won a league leading 13 games in 2011 but suffered injuries in 2012 that limited him to only five starts.
Pellot is mild mannered, Renshaw is fiery. They both became stars for the Slammers in 2011 and are leaving the game of baseball sooner than expected. Pellot is returning to Puerto Rico for multiple reasons.
“Part of my decision to leave was that my mom is sick and she needs me there,” Pellot said. “It’s a hard decision but I have to do it. I’m young, I want to get my Bachelor’s Degree at the University of Puerto Rico and my goal is to go to medical school. That’s all I’m thinking of right now.”
Despite the pre-mature end to his professional baseball career, Pellot is now chasing another dream.
“It’s funny because the only two things I’ve wanted to do in my life are be a professional baseball player and a doctor,” Pellot said. “I’ve had the opportunity to be a professional baseball player for quite awhile now and now I’m going to pursue my goal of becoming a doctor.”
Often players with Pellot’s pedigree resent playing independent ball, but that was not the case for him. Despite circumstances changing in his life due to his mother’s health, Pellot will never forget the time he spent in Joliet. The second baseman who played so many years in the Mets’ organization found a city and a team where he truly felt comfortable. Winning a championship in 2011 is something he says he’ll never forget, but it goes beyond that.
“When I came here, it was one of the best things that has happened to me in my professional baseball career because I found a family,” Pellot said. “Coaches, players, front office people, you guys are great. Even my host family is unbelievable. My host mom wants the best for me and she knows that going to college and getting my education will be good for my future.”
Not being able to pitch much this season was tough on Renshaw because coming in to the year he knew it would probably be his last as a professional baseball player. The man his teammates called “Captain” because of his leadership and fascination with pirates, prides himself on toughness. His defining start came on July 18, 2011 against the Windy City ThunderBolts in Crestwood. He tossed a complete game giving up one run on four hits in an 8-1 win for the Slammers.
“That was probably one of the highlights of my career, simply because Roy Halladay was pitching down the street in Chicago and had to leave the game in about the third inning I believe because of heat exhaustion,” Renshaw said. “Heat is one of those things that is very daunting when it’s 100 degrees and 95 percent humidity, you’re so worried about how your body is feeling that you kind of forget about what you’re doing out on the mound.”
Fans have often wondered about how the Slammers could struggle so much this season after winning the league title last year. Independent Baseball changes drastically from year to year and the injuries to Renshaw have played a big factor. Last year, he was the ace, the man for Joliet. This season he had to watch mostly from the dugout and decided that it was time to write a new chapter in his life.
Renshaw has two kids: Kolton and Kendall. He says their names; despite both starting with “K” are not referencing strike outs. Kolton will turn four in September and Kendall was born this year on Renshaw’s birthday: April 29.
“I am going to go home and enjoy being a dad for a little while,” Renshaw said. “I always enjoy being a dad. I want to strictly just hang out with the kids and be with my family. I’m going to take some time to give them my all now. Before I was giving half of my life to baseball and the other half went to everything else. It’s time to just commit to being a dad and move on from baseball.”
A lot has changed for Joliet since their championship season of 2011. Only six players remain from the team that brought the first professional baseball title to the “City of Champions.” Players leave the Frontier League for many reasons. Some get signed to affiliated teams, some decide to go out into the “real world”, some become too old (the age limit is 27), while others get traded or released, as they see their production on the field dip. For Pellot and Renshaw, their departures from Joliet came sooner than expected, but their accomplishments will not be forgotten.
Pellot said he would miss everything about Joliet and Renshaw agrees. The championship the team won followed by the disappointment of 2012 just goes to show how tough it is to win consistently in the game of baseball. Now, they both begin new journeys.
“I’m going to miss just competing every day and having a goal,” Renshaw said. “Right when we got here last year, you could just tell we were bound for success. I think that this is a great organization and a wonderful community, and they really pulled for us down the stretch last year. Just being around the guys and coming out and getting to play a game is going to be something I will miss a lot. It’s a kid’s game. Everybody’s got to stop playing sooner or later…I just didn’t see it happening so fast for me.”