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Professional Ballplayers Out Of The 908!

By Marina Hernandez

Here are a few of our local heroes who have made it to the big leagues!

Ricky Tiedemann

History in Long Beach Sports:

  • ELB (Heartwell Park)

  • LB PONY (Whaley Park)

  • Lakewood High School

  • LBCC

  • Drafted: 3rd round in 2021 by the Toronto Bluejays

Ricky Tiedemann is the latest of our Long Beach boys to be an early draft pick by a Major League organization (in 2021, Long Beach produced four MLB draftees including EJ Andrews, Julian Aguiar and Zach Pettway). Ricky attributes his success in youth sports in part to his coaches and the lessons they taught him about working hard and making sacrifices. When speaking about the competitive nature of sports Ricky states, “Playing sports in Long Beach area exposed me to the best competition in the game of baseball and overall helped me prepare for the next level.” As a youth Ricky looked up to guys who had already achieved a career in sports including his own brother Tai Tiedemann and hometown kid, JP Crawford.

Zach Pettway

History in Long Beach Sports:

  • Long Beach Little League (Stearns Park)

  • Wilson High School

  • UCLA

  • Drafted: 16th round in 2021 by the Cleveland Indians

After stellar careers at Wilson HS and UCLA, Zach Pettway earned the right to compete with the best of them as a Cleveland Indians draft pick. Zach reflects on his early days in baseball- and they don’t have much to do with him actually playing ball at all, “Personally I don’t really remember that many games from Little League but I remember playing butts up on the wall or pickle or watching the older kids play Allstars. Those memories will stick with me forever and helped me grow to truly love the game of baseball.” When it came to what he remembered following Little League, Zach always felt encouraged and supported by parents and the kids he played with. Once he began playing for UCLA, Zach recalls having support from families who went to watch him play, “Having so many people from Long Beach come to support has just given me extra support I’ve needed throughout my baseball career.”

Chase De Jong

History in Long Beach Sports:

  • Long Beach Little League (Stearns Park)

  • LB PONY (Whaley Park)

  • Wilson High School

  • Drafted: 2nd round in 2012 by the Toronto Bluejays

  • Currently pitches for the Pittsburg Pirates

Chase De Jong may be the prime example of competitiveness in Long Beach’s youth sports leagues. In 2008 he helped lead the Long Beach PONY team to a World Series Championship as the ace pitcher. They may not have known it then, but every player who stepped up to the plate against Chase got a tas

te of what it’s like to face an elite athlete. Even so, Chase speaks highly of the overall quality of athletes in Long Beach, “We have so many Allstar caliber players that have made impacts across MLB, NBA and NFL. You know when you’re growing up and playing in the city that you are playing against world class talent.” While at Wilson HS, Chase was mentored by, and formed a true friendship with Aaron Hicks, a former Wilson standout who went on to play for the Yankees, “He was the guy that talked to me about pro ball and what to expect. I could always go to him with questions and he gave me the confidence by working with

me while I was at Wilson.”

Mike Gallo

History in Long Beach Sports:

  • Little League at Los Altos (El Dorado Park)

  • LB Pony (Whaley Park)

  • Millikan High School

  • LBCC and Long Beach State

  • Drafted: 5th round in 1999 by the Houston Astros

As a veteran of MLB, Mike Gallo is among those who have illuminated a path to professional sports for younger generations of Long Beach ball players. Finding his stride as a pitcher late into his High School career, Mike found his drive to succeed internally as he dealt with his emotions surrounding the separation of his parents. “I drove my feelings into the game and into my school work. It helped me.” Being a mentally strong person seems to be a trait that fares well for those pursuing a career in baseball. It’s a game of failures after all. “You are going to fail in the game. It is how you come back from the failure that defines you as a player. Do you give up or do you fight?” It’s that fighting spirit that led to a successful pitching career and two 2005 World Series appearances with the Houston Astros for this hometown hero.



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