While every baseball player has seen some adversity here and there, new Baltimore Orioles reliever Ryan Eades has been facing adversity and tough times for nearly his entire life. In fact, his life completely changed when he was just 12 years old.
Eades was that young age when his father, Ned, lost his battle with Leukemia.
“(My parents) have been everything,” Eades said. “Just growing up, my dad coached me. My brother and I had travel ball teams. We traveled around with a bunch of guys, had a lot of fun, and won a lot of games. I lost my dad when I was in seventh grade, just before high school. That was tough, obviously. My brother was 10 and I was 12.”
While the loss shook the whole family, Eades said that his mother did not miss a beat and took over with the two young sons.
“My mom did an incredible job as a single mother, raising us,” Eades said. “She was still there for us, hitting us ground balls, or throwing to us in the cage, or playing catch with us. She threw with me a couple of times when I had shoulder surgery. It was cool because we were tight knit. We were always there for each other.”
Finally, Eades was hardly able to pitch his final two years of high school due to the aforementioned shoulder injury that required surgery.
“My senior year, I did not pitch,” Eades said. “I had labrum surgery. The end of my junior year in high school, I found out I tore my labrum in April. I finished out the year DHing because I couldn’t even throw. We ended up winning the state championship that year. I had surgery a few days after that. I did rehab and played first base my senior year of high school. I slowly got into the rehab process of pitching. It was no rush, as I was not going to pitch my senior year. I just wanted to take my time, take things slow, and be ready when I got to college.”
Even having not pitched for that span, Eades was still a 19th round pick by the Rockies out of high school. He has just shown that he has a skill of making lemonade when dealt lemons. With all of the tragedy and rocky times, Eades was a second round pick by the Twins out of LSU in 2013.
He battled all of this and reached the pinnacle of his profession, making his Major League debut against the Tigers on June 8. As for his story, it was quite a whirlwind.
“I found out the day before,” Eades said. “We were in Pawtucket. The manager just called me in after the game and told me I was going up. I couldn’t really sleep much that night. It was just a lot of excitement, nerves, things like that. I had to take an Uber to Boston the next morning and flew out. I remember I got to the field like 20 to 30 minutes before game time. I didn’t really have a lot of time to do my normal thing when I get to the field, so I just kind of showed up, ate a sandwich, and played catch in the bullpen. I had never done that before. I ended up going into the game and made my debut in the sixth inning. I pitched the sixth and seventh…It was a great experience and I had a great time. Hopefully I have another opportunity to go up there and be with those guys.”
One of those big league players, now on the opposite side is Devin Smeltzer, who dealt with cancer at a similar age as Eades lost his father. The two created a bond, to the point that Eades wears Smeltzer’s shirt for his foundation while in the clubhouse before the game.
“This shirt is Devin Smeltzer, one of my teammates’,” Eades said. “He had bladder cancer when he was younger. This is his shirt for his foundation. Once he came up to Triple-A earlier in the year, he had some shirts. It is a neat design and the guys got to be a part of it. It is just a cool thing to put some money to research.”
Between losing a parent at such an important age and losing his ability to pitch for a couple years, Eades has still overcome all of that to make it to the peak of his profession.