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Wrestling champ Joseph walks away to swing at baseball dream

04/01/2014, 9:01pm CDT
By Star Tribune

To some, what Jordan Joseph did was unthinkable. But to Joseph, it was simply a matter of following a dream.

To some, what Jordan Joseph did was unthinkable. But to Joseph, it was simply a matter of following a dream.

The St. Michael-Albertville junior won the Class 3A 170-pound state wrestling championship as a sophomore. Then he walked away from wrestling, intent on pursuing his passion for baseball.

“People were kind of shocked. It’s pretty much unheard of in wrestling to win a state championship and then not do it anymore,” Joseph said. “I had a lot of support in St. Michael, but some people in the wrestling community couldn’t understand it.”

Joseph, a shortstop, talked with staff writer Jim Paulsen about trading his singlet for stirrups.

 

Q: Why give up wrestling?

A: My dream in life, ever since I was little, was to be a professional baseball player. I love everything about baseball.

 

Q: Was it tough to walk away?

A: It was hard because I love wrestling, too. I started wrestling when I was 3 and baseball shortly after that. I grew up loving them both equally.

 

Q: Why baseball?

A: I love the atmosphere and how laid back it is. Wrestling can be super-intense sometimes. Baseball is not so much of a constant brawl. I always look forward to it, even practice.

 

Q: Do you play year-round?

A: Yes. I decided that if I truly wanted to accomplish my goals, I had to put more time into it.

 

Q: Describe yourself as a baseball player.

A: I’m not the biggest player [5-foot-8, 185 pounds] but I play super hard, 110 percent all the time. I’m a gap-to-gap hitter, I have some power and I can hit for a high average.

 

Q: When did you fall in love with baseball?

A: When I had the opportunity to go to Cooperstown [N.Y., home of the Baseball Hall of Fame]. I’ve gone there three times, playing in tournaments. I went there first when I was 7, then I went back when I was 12. It’s been my goal to be a professional ever since.

 

Q: Your best baseball memory?

A: When I was 12 in Cooperstown, I started off the tournament going 17-for-17. I was on fire. I felt like I couldn’t get out. It was an awesome feeling.

 

Q: How do you train in the winter?

A: I play with the Minnesota Blizzard Academy. We hit in the cage, take ground balls off the turf. We’re not outdoors, so we can’t take fly balls, but other than that, it’s good training.

 

Q: Do you travel to tournaments with the Blizzard?

A: This winter we went to Utah and then to Phoenix. It was pretty great.

 

Q: How do Minnesota teams stack up?

A: Surprisingly, we’ve been very successful in every tournament we’ve been in. We’re tough.

 

Q: Do you play with any other teams?

A: I play American Legion. I play town ball with the Kimball Express. That’s been a great experience.

 

Q: I’ve heard you also play with a team in Sioux Falls.

A: Yeah, the Sioux Falls Cyclones. It’s super-good competition. We play eight tournaments and they’re all drivable. Places like Wichita State and Omaha.

 

Q: Do you ever take time off?

A: Not much. I can’t get enough of baseball. My next goal is to be a Division I player. I truly believe I can play at that level.

JIM PAULSEN

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