At 24-years-old, Jackson utility man and promising young Mariners prospect Jack Marder has been forced to give up baseball. Marder was hit in the head by a 92 mph fastball during a game in Montgomery on July 19, which ultimately is the final game of his professional baseball career.
He suffered a concussion, which was at least the seventh in his baseball career. Originally drafted as a catcher in 2011 out of the University of Oregon, the concussions that added up forced him to make a position change.
“After I got hit in head (in Montgomery) I knew it (would be) an issue,” said Marder. “It’s what prevented me from continuing to catch. But I was starting to feel fine towards end of year, so all the hope I had was in that meeting.”
The meeting he is referring came at the end of the season in Seattle with Mariners doctors. Marder began to play catch, take swings in the cage and it seemed if the season went on a few more weeks he could be activated.
“I went up to Seattle and took brain scans. After seven, eight concussions and looking at my brain they didn’t clear me to keep going.”
Marder, as any baseball player would be after hearing news like that was devastated.
“I honestly never felt as though I’d be done. So when they had that talk with me, it was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through. I just really didn’t think they would ever tell me I couldn’t keep playing.”
In the dictionary beside the word toughness, there should be a picture of Jack. If you were able to be around Jack, his positive attitude and mindset rubbed off on you. He never had a bad day. I mean can you imagine suffering through that many concussions and playing the game at the highest level? He was a coaches dream. Whether it was teammates, scouts, coaches, opposing teams, umpires etc. they raved about how he played the game. He played it the right way, whether he felt good that day or not.
“ I played though injuries my whole life, always managed a way to get on the field. Tricked them enough to get me in the lineup sometimes. In this case though, there was no more pleading I could’ve done, or disguising my injuries in a case like this.”
Marder announced the news on his twitter page on Friday night and of course there was an outpouring of support from fans and teammates.
Mariners’ top prospect D.J. Peterson had this to say to Marder after playing with him the second half of the 2014 season.
Big guy? Well, not so much in stature at a listed (and I say listed) 5’11’’, 185 pounds, but again it comes from how he played the game.
He jumped on the radar after his 2012 season with Single-A High Desert in the hitter friendly confines of Adelanto, CA posting a .352/.416/.564 slash line with 24 doubles, four triples, 10 home runs and 56 RBI’s in just 65 games. He was limited due to one of those concussions and a hamstring injury. It was in 2012 though when we began to see the versatility as he appeared in games at catcher, second base and the outfield.
In 2013, rated as a top 20 Mariners prospect he battled through the tough jump to Double-A and was no longer a catcher. In 90 games, he batted just .218 playing in games at catcher, second base, third base, left field, right field and designated hitter. But, this year, in his second season at the Double-A level, Marder started to live up to that hype he received at the end of 2012. After a little bit of a slow start, he hit .329 in June and overall in 74 games batted .277, with 11 doubles, two triples, five homers and 24 RBI’s. The patented patience at the plate led to 27 walks and a terrific .375 on-base percentage. He was also hit by a pitch 12 times in 2014, pushing his career total to 38.
For now though, it’s looking to the future. Unfortunately, it is not a future that would’ve probably had him with Triple-A Tacoma in 2015. But, Marder has already paved out a plan, at least for the short-term. He is going back to the University of Oregon to finish school and be an undergrad assistant for the Duck’s baseball team.
More importantly than anything though, he says he is feeling healthy.
“I feel fine now. I was worried though that the next (concussion) could be life altering for me with how many I’ve had and what they saw on the CT scan”
With his knowledge and passion for baseball, I asked him if coaching professionally could be in his future.
“I haven’t thought that far. I know I can’t get away from baseball. Coaching is my only way to be a part of it and I plan on being good at it. I plan on being the best there is some way or another. If I’m able to do it professionally then I will strongly consider it.”
Over four seasons and 247 games he’s had some great memories and I asked him to reflect on his baseball career not only with the Mariners’ organization, but overall.
“I played baseball since I was three and have had great moments and have had bad ones. I’ll miss the guys, the bus rides, grind of it and long seasons where you go through so much. You never get that anywhere else and I’ll miss it. Feeling of getting knocked in the dirt and coming back from it and rising above it. That’s what baseball is.
I wish there were more players like Jack Marder, more players that played the game the right way. More players that pulled the socks up high and had that “bring the lunch pail to work” type of passion and work ethic. He had a chance to play in the big leagues and unfortunately it will never come to fruition. It’s not fair, in fact in flat out stinks, but Marder has an amazing attitude.
“I don’t want people feeling bad for me to. I believe everything happens for a reason. It will all work out in the end.”