December 20, 2013
DOUGLAS, Ariz. — Life can be brutally unfair. Just ask Steve Naemark, sophomore lefthanded pitcher for Cochise College in Arizona.
The reigning Most Outstanding Pitcher at the JUCO World Series last spring who posted a nation-leading 11 wins for the Apaches, is the poster child for never giving up on a dream.
Naemark was a superb pitcher at Mountain View High School in Tucson, AZ and pitched for the Chicago White Sox scout team under Coach Bryan Huie.
He was ultimately offered several college scholarships and accepted one from Central Arizona Junior College. That’s where his torturous journey began.
“I graduated from Mountain View H.S. in 2008, and in July of that year, I was ready to go to Central Arizona after I was awarded a scholarship,” said the 23-year-old Naemark.
“I even put a housing deposit down with the school and told other schools thanks for their offers, but I had committed to Central Arizona.
“Then I got a call from one of their coaches about a month before attending school. He informed me that I would in all likelihood be a bench guy, and they didn’t see me fitting into their plans. He encouraged me to reconsider other offers from other colleges at that point. Naturally, I was shocked at receiving this call so late in the process since I had not thrown even one pitch during the fall or attended one class.”
Naemark’s life was thrown into turmoil after this bombshell was dropped on him.
“My parents then encouraged me to walk on at Pima Community College (in Tucson). But I frankly didn’t like the idea of walking on when I felt I had earned a scholarship to play baseball in college. I briefly attended Pima in the fall of 2008, but failed three classes because I wasn’t motivated and dropped out.
“I signed up for the men’s league in Tucson that fall but stopped playing after two games because I didn’t have the drive to play any more and was totally depressed about life.
“From that point, I went into a stagnant stage in my life. My parents supported me, but they never allowed me to sit around. So I began working at a series of dead-end jobs which helped bring in money for the family.
“First, I worked at Taco Bell for two years. Then I worked at a call center called AFNI for a year. I fielded calls for nine hours a day with a ½ hour lunch allowed. It was horrible because you worked on billing issues with people.
“Then I worked at Eegees (a Tucson fast food establishment) for six months and then worked at McDonalds for another 7-8 months. At McDonalds, I did everything there except bookkeeping as I flipped burgers and made fries to cleaning up messes on tables. The worst job I had there was cleaning the tubes in the playground for kids who slid through. Being 6-foot-2, it was hard on the knees.
“But McDonalds was a steady job as I worked the 4 a.m.-1 p.m. shift, and it was close to home.”
In the four years since graduating from Mountain View High School, he didn’t even pick up a baseball because of the bitter taste he had for the game he once loved.
To read more about how Steve Naemark overcame four years of torture from dead end jobs to become an elite junior college pitcher, purchase the Jan. 3, 2014 edition of Collegiate Baseball by CLICKING HERE.