The latest flamethrower right-handed pitcher for the New York Yankees used to deliver in a much different environment: lessons in the classroom.
Stephen Ridings made his major league debut Aug. 3 against the Baltimore Orioles, when he hit triple digits on the radar gun and struck out three batters. Just months earlier, he was working as a substitute teacher at the Palm Beach Maritime Academy in Lantana, Fla.
“Yeah, I mean I’d go to work, proctor for the day,” Ridings told MLB.com. “Then I’d show up to the gym, dressed up in my polo and khakis. I’d change in the bathroom quick, go throw, get a workout in and be done before they closed.”
Ridings had been in the minors with the Kansas City Royals in 2019, but he was forced to take the substitute teaching job when the COVID-19 pandemic cancelled the 2020 season. Ridings told MLB.com that he substituted at the school from October 2020 through early March 2021, where he took attendance, distributed lesson plans and made sure the students were well-behaved.
“The younger kids had no idea,” Ridings said. “Some of the older ones I talked to about it, they thought it was cool. I don’t know if they heard it through the grapevine, but they would ask me what I do other than this and I would say, ‘I’m a professional baseball player.’ They tried to Google me. There were a couple kids who had a solid grasp on it.”
Just one month after Ridings started subbing at Maritime, the Royals released him.
According to MLB.com, Ridings then started to train at a gym that is run by Yankees director of player health and performance Eric Cressey.
After watching Ridings train, Cressey sent videos of some of the workouts to members of the Yankee front office. New York then sent a scout to observe a workout and the team then signed him to a deal in January.
“Yeah, I told (the teachers), ‘I just got signed by the Yankees the other day,’ and one of them nearly had a heart attack,” Ridings told MLB.com. “She was like, ‘Oh my god, that’s so exciting!’ “
Ridings left the school shortly after he signed with New York and then performed well enough in Classes AA and AAA to earn the call up in August.
In five appearances this season, Ridings has allowed just four hits, two walks and one run in five innings for an ERA of 1.80. He has struck out seven batters. Ridings was recently sent back down to Triple-A.
“The whole year has been absolutely wild,” Ridings told MLB.com. “It feels like just yesterday I was excited to have made the Double-A roster. … It’s crazy to see where I came from at the beginning of this year, thinking I hopefully even get a chance to play baseball and then being on the mound at Yankee Stadium.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Stephen Ridings: Yankees flamethrower was a substitute teacher
Source: Yahoo Sports