Winthropâ€™s John â€œJackâ€ Wallace will be back on the pitcherâ€™s mound Thursday night in Nashua when he makes his debut for the North Shore Navigators of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League.
Under normal circumstances, Wallace would be boarding the Navigatorsâ€™ team bus this afternoon for the trip to New Hampshire. But because of the ongoing health crisis, players will travel individually to each game. Still, Wallace said he is very excited to compete in the highly competitive league that usually draws large crowds and Major League Baseball scouts but will have limited seating capacity this season.
â€œWeâ€™ve been practicing for two weeks at Fraser Field and weâ€™re ready to get going,â€ said Wallace. â€œIâ€™ll be a starter, reliever, whatever the team needs, Iâ€™ll do it.â€
Wallace, 21, was pitching for Franklin Pierce University (New Hampshire) in March when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the remainder of the college baseball season. A 5-feet-11-inch, 195-pound righthander with a fastball hitting 91 miles per hour on the radar, Wallace was off to a strong start with a 1-0 record and 13 strikeouts in six appearances as a starter and reliever in the powerful Division 2 Ravensâ€™ program.
A Superb Career at Winthrop High
Letâ€™s say it right up front: Jack Wallace should be an inductee in the Winthrop High School Hall of Fame as soon as he is eligible. He is the only athlete in school history to achieve No. 1 status on the school golf team and to lead Northeastern Conference Baseball in hitting with a sizzling .505 average and two home runs. He played five seasons of varsity golf in Peter Lyonsâ€™ program.
Wallace also formed one of the better 1-2 pitching combinations when he was a sophomore and David Kirby was a senior. Wallace threw a complete game in the MIAA playoffs that season, but Winthrop fell, 2-1, to Oâ€™Bryant High School.
Wallace improved steadily and his velocity increased as he became the three-year ace for Frank DeMarcoâ€™s Winthrop High baseball team, receiving Northeastern Conference All-Star recognition as a junior and All-Conference as a senior when he won six games.
Before his high school career, Wallace excelled in both the Winthrop Little League and the Winthrop Pony League where he led his team to a championship.
â€œIâ€™m glad to see that the Winthrop Senior League is returning,â€ said Wallace. â€œIt seems like [Little League President] Joe Murphy loves baseball and heâ€™s trying hard to keep that interest going and thatâ€™s good for the town. Thatâ€™s the key: our parents were really into baseball when we were growing up. Itâ€™s just something you did, living in Winthrop.â€
Signing With the Navigators
Jack Wallace was pitching in the FPU fall baseball season when Navigators president Derek January expressed interest in having him on the 2020 roster.
The contract offer was a perfect fit for Wallace, who wanted to play baseball locally. He had pitched for the Adirondack (N.Y.) Trailblazers in the Perfect Game League following his freshman year and the Reading Bulldogs in the Intercity League last summer.
â€œMr. January said the Navigators had an opportunity for me and I ran with it,â€ said Wallace. â€œI had a chance to play for the Navs out of high school and I kind of regret not doing it, but Iâ€™m glad I can play for the Navs now.â€
January has assembled a very talented roster that includes one of Wallaceâ€™s future Franklin Pierce teammates, catcher Dylan January of Swampscott. Boston Collegeâ€™s trio of Sal Frelick, Cody Morissette, and Peter Burns should boost the Navs toward a lofty spot in the FCBL standings.
â€œWeâ€™re really hopeful about the season,â€ said Wallace. â€œWe have great guys on the team. The coaching staff is nice. Theyâ€™re willing to help you and theyâ€™re committed to the organization. I really hope, that with all the stuff thatâ€™s happening, that this lasts for an entire season.â€
Wallace will also be trying to impress the MLB scouts that attend FCBL games. Both Frelick and Morrisette are projected MLB Draft selections in 2021.
Wallace caught the eye of Boston Red Sox scouts during a â€œScout Dayâ€ session following his fall baseball season.
â€œI received a draft questionnaire from the Red Sox and hopefully I can continue to improve my velocity and throw more strikes and thatâ€™s a great first step â€“ I want to keep those relationship going with MLB teams. I just have to keep pitching well.â€
A Proud Athletic Heritage
Jack Wallace is the son of Mark Wallace and Beth Tallent. The Tallent family is at the top of the A-List of Winthrop sports. â€œDavid Tallent Sr. is my uncle. David Tallent Jr. is my cousin. Ronnie Talent is my cousin. My grandfather, Jim Tallent, played college baseball. And Iâ€™m a cousin (through marriage) to Robert Noonan (Megan Tallent Noonanâ€™s husband), whose son is a future Winthrop quarterback.â€
â€œMy father was a really good athlete,â€ said Jack. â€œBut I definitely got a lot of my sports tradition from my motherâ€™s side.â€