Carmel Unified substitute teacher Joe Parsons received the call of a lifetime on Aug. 5 when he was asked to play for a club baseball team in Australia, and he found himself on a plane Sept. 8.
“It happened quickly and it was all very exciting.”
The 2007 Carmel High grad will be playing for a club team while coaching a 19-and-under team with the possibility of playing for a professional squad called the Perth Heat. Parsons says that this is a great opportunity to see the world, and he is glad that he gets to do so through his passion.
“I’m in Australia because I wanted an adventure, I wanted to see this part of the world, and baseball was my ticket here.”
Even though this is one of his greater opportunities from baseball, the 6-foot-2-inch righty is no stranger to higher-level competition. He originally created a name for himself as a CHS senior when he made the All-County team as well as first team All-League. Since then, he has attended three different colleges and played for multiple professional teams.
Parsons’ freshman appearance at the University of Hawaii was short-lived after throwing just one inning and ending with an ERA of 162.00. The former Padre notes that after this performance his college coach said that he had made a mistake in recruiting him and that Parsons had no shot in playing for anyone else.
This proved to be all the more motivation for the persistent reliever as he dusted himself off and went on to become the 2009 conference pitcher of the year at Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo with an ERA of 3.41 and a record of 9-1. This amazing season opened up a number of offers, and Parsons chose to play his next two seasons at Virginia Tech.
The next year, as a junior, Parsons took a line-drive off the elbow, thus ending his season after completing just 5.1 innings pitched. However the following year proved to be a major success as he possessed the lowest ERA as well as the highest GPA on the team, allowing only 3.21 runs on average while maintaining a solid 3.59 in the classroom.
Out of Virginia Tech, his professional career began in 2011 when he was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates as an undrafted free agent. He played one season in the Pirates organization before he was released in 2012, only to play for another professional team elsewhere in America.
On his new independent team the following year, Parsons realized that baseball beneath the majors was a bit less majestic than many people think.
“What people often don’t understand is that pro ball at the lower levels is more of a grind than it is fun.”
And because he found himself in a motionless progression as a ballplayer and a person, he decided to take a break from baseball to try other things. Luckily, the trip to Australia crossed his path and gave him the chance to do something different while enjoying an entirely new country.
“I do want to pursue professional baseball further, but only so long as I’m getting something worthwhile out of it.”
Parsons’ path to the Down Under has been a constant uphill trek, but he plans to make the best of this blessing, which could possibly even open doors for higher-level baseball somewhere down the road.