When six foot four Steve Delabar walks down a hallway it’s hard not to notice, even in the Pickel Field House, where athletes come and go all day long. The Major League Baseball All-Star pitcher is back at Vol State.
“It feels like I never left, walking the halls,” Delabar said. “A lot of the staff is the same. It feels like only yesterday since I was here.”
Yesterday was actually 11 years ago, the last time Delabar pitched for the Vol State baseball team. In that time, the Toronto Blue Jays player has been in and out of surgery and in and out of the majors. His latest stint, though, is going quite well. He pitched in the seventh inning of the 2013 All-Star Game in New York.
“It was kind of a blur going there,” Delabar said. “You try to soak it up all you can and enjoy it.”
When asked what it felt like when he walked out on the field to pitch, he said it was all business.
“It felt like my job. I didn’t know who I was facing. I got in there and threw my warm up pitches.”
Delabar secured a strike out. He then went on to pitch an immaculate inning, the first in Blue Jays history, a few weeks later. An immaculate inning is nine pitches for three strike outs.
He returned to Vol State recently to speak to the young Pioneer pitchers.
“I’m just going to talk to them,” he said. “I’m sure they have a lot of questions. When it comes down to it they have their own path they need to create.
Much of the talk focused on strength, repetition and velocity. Baseball trainers look for conditioning ideas from all sorts of sports. For pitchers, that means considering what tennis players do to build strength.
And when asked about playing community college baseball, compared to big university programs Delabar says the path depends on you.
“The Vol State program was really good when I was here and there were a lot of scouts watching us. If you play well enough here you can get picked up by a major league team.”