We’ve all laughed watching some kids play baseball. You know the ones.
Those more interested in picking dandelions than picking up a ground ball.
More interested in watching planes fly overhead than catching a fly ball.
That was Kyle Joseph Schwarber nearly 25 years ago when he was introduced to baseball at Smith Park, once a youth baseball hotbed in Middletown.
Today there are plenty of weeds at Smith Park. There just isn’t baseball. America’s National Pastime has been replaced by soccer fields and splash pads.
Schwarber, 28, wants to change that. He has allowed organizers of Middie Way baseball — including his father, Commissioner Greg Schwarber and former Middletown police chief — to use his name as a way to raise recognition in the region.
Middie Way held five free summer baseball camps this year at Lefferson Park and plans to join Little League next year.
While attending a check presentation last week, when the Middletown Division of Fire gave a $16,000 check — proceeds from its annual golf tournament — to Middie Way baseball, Schwarber said he was “all in” volunteering whenever possible this off-season.
Schwarber and his wife of two years, Paige, are expecting their first child and they’re building a home in the area.
The Middletown High School graduate recently completed what he called “a very interesting” season. After the 2020 season when he hit a career-low .188 with a career-low .701 OPS in 59 games during the pandemic-shortened 60-game year, he was non-tendered by the Chicago Cubs, the team that drafted him in the first round of the 2014 MLB draft.
Then he signed a one-year, $10 million contract with the Washington Nationals. He was traded to the Boston Red Sox in the middle of the season and finished with 32 homers and career highs in hitting (.266) and OPS (.928) in 113 games for the Nats and Red Sox.
When the Red Sox lost in the playoffs, Schwarber became a free agent.
There are two sides to every trade: One team wants you and another is willing to trade you.
“Very interesting,” Schwarber said about being traded for the first time in his career.
With a Collective Bargaining Agreement looming and the designated hitter rule possibly being added to the National League, Schwarber has one idea where or when he may sign. He’d like to sign a four- or five-year deal. That length probably would be worth near $75 million.
Regardless of where he signs, Schwarber will bring high expectations for himself and his team. In his seven seasons, Schwarber has made the playoffs six times and won the 2016 World Series with the Cubs.
Lamar Ferrell, pastor at Berachah Church and a supporter of Middie Way baseball, told Schwarber: “You are truly a champion.”
His father said sometimes fame and fortune changes a person. It’s not that way with his son.
“I think he’s the same kid he was growing up at Smith Park,” his father.
Except now he can afford to buy one of those planes flying overhead.