Just a hypothetical question but could Jack Wallace have thrown his 90 MPH fastball past his cousin, Ronnie Tallent, the former Winthrop baseball star and California Angels (now Los Angeles Angels) draft pick?
â€œIâ€™ve heard some amazing stories about Ronnie,â€ said Wallace, who just finished a successful summer campaign for the North Shore Navigators. â€œI heard heâ€™s one of the last players to actually hit the houses from the Winthrop baseball field. I heard his name every time I played high school baseball. Thatâ€™s who I was getting compared to.â€
Thatâ€™s elite company.
Wallace is hoping to play professional baseball, too, and he took a step forward in his career, pitching well for the Futures Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL) franchise based in Lynn.
â€œWeâ€™re very happy with Jackâ€™s contribution to our team this season,â€ said Navsâ€™ General Manager Derek January. â€œHis fastball was consistently in the 90-92 mph range and he threw strikes. We hope that he will return to our organization next season.â€
Interestingly, Wallace will be pitching baseballs in the 2021 college season to Januaryâ€™s son, Dylan January, who is a teammate at Franklin Pierce University.
Wallace struck out 21 batters in 19 innings as a starter and reliever for the Navigators. Thatâ€™s an impressive strikeout-to-innings ratio against many Division 1 college players, some of whom opted for the FCBL following the cancellation of the Cape Cod Baseball League.
â€œI was at 90-92 (miles per hour) pretty much for all my relief appearances,â€ said Wallace. â€œWe had some kids throwing 95-96 in the league, but at 92, I was happy.â€
One of Wallaceâ€™s teammates, Sal Frelick of Boston College and Lexington High School, hit .398 in the leadoff spot. Scores of MLB scouts attended games, giving Wallace a chance to impress.
â€œWe had a bunch of scouts at games,â€ said Wallace. â€œThere werenâ€™t any fans at our home games, but they allowed scouts behind the backstop.â€
Wallaceâ€™s parents, Mark Wallace and Beth Tallent, had to find seats either on the right-field hillside overlooking the field or beyond the left field fence. â€œThe seating accommodations were definitely interesting but they made it work,â€ said Wallace.
Wallace did get to pitch in front of fans against the Nashua Silver Knights in New Hampshire and the New Britain Bees in Connecticut.
â€œIt was interesting playing without fans, but I donâ€™t think it affected the team a lot,â€ said Wallace. â€œI wish there were fans because itâ€™s cool to hear the crowd and the noise. But Iâ€™d rather play with no fans than not play at all.â€
Though the Navigators missed a playoff berth, Wallace felt it was a great experience to play for the team.
â€œI made an excellent choice to play for this team,â€ said Wallace. â€œIt was a great experience.â€
Wallace is back on the Franklin Pierce campus and getting ready for the 2021 season.
â€œWeâ€™re practicing in small, five-person workouts twice a week because of COVID-19,â€ said Wallace. â€œI do bullpens on Tuesdays and long tosses on Thursdays.â€
Wallace said fall baseball games against usual opponents Southern New Hampshire, Plymouth State, and Keene State have been canceled.
â€œBut if everything goes according to plan, weâ€™ll start our season on Feb. 28,â€ he said. â€œAt this moment, Iâ€™ll be a starting pitcher and we should have a very good team if we all click together and play as a team. If we play as a team, no one in the Northeast should beat us.â€