The game was in honor of Jacob Cruz, a 1991 CI graduate and former major league baseball player for the San Francisco Giants.
CI’s baseball team had a special ceremony and retired his jersey number, 30, hanging it on the outfield fence of the baseball field alongside other great players over the past years. It was a very special moment for Cruz and he thanked all of those who supported him and were there along the way to help make his dream come true.
For Cruz, baseball was his family’s big passion and he grew up around it. Cruz played baseball all four years of high school, and he remembered how great it was to be out on the field with his teammates and his family out in the bleachers cheering him on at every game.
Cruz has come very far over the years since he walked through the line and graduated with his class of 1991. He was drafted by the California Angels, but he declined their offer to go to Arizona State for his four years to be mentally, emotionally, and educationally ready.
Once Cruz was stable and felt confidentthat he was ready to play with the “big boys,” he was drafted in the 1994 major league baseball game by the Giants and signed on with their team.
When he made his big major league debut on July 16th of 1996, he was overwhelmed with accomplishment and was proud to have made it to the major leagues. After playing for the Giants major league system and the triple-A affilate in 1996-1998, he got traded to the Cleveland Indians and was tossed around quite a bit throughout 1998 to 2001. “Although it was a very difficulttime in my life,” he said. “It is all part of the game of baseball.”
Cruz has also played for overseas teams such as Korea and Mexico. Cruz has played for each country for about a year.
“The whole experience was great, and it was a very big culture shock once you get in there,” Cruz said. “You’re in a different place and you learn the different customs that the people have that’s odd in some ways for us but then again normal to them.”
As of now, Cruz is a coach for Yakima (Wash.) Bears, a minor league team for the Arizona Diamondbacks, and he hopes to become a major league baseball coach for the “big boys” in the future.
He will forever be a part of CI’s Raider family and his last words of wisdom to all the young athletes were, “Get your education and (be) mentally and emotionally prepared for the sacrifices. Also, invest your time in doing what you love.”