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Jack Leiter Making His MLB Debut Today Is A Reminder How Old I Am

Christian Petersen. Getty Images.

Jack Leiter is making his MLB debut today for the Texas Rangers. It feels like it's been an unnaturally long time coming but that's only because we've heard so much about him even before he was drafted in 2021. He's now no longer a top-100 prospect. However he seems to have turned a corner in the offseason. His AAA numbers this year are pretty startling. He was 25 strikeouts in only 14.1 IP. He also only has 3 walks.

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All of this made me personally take a bit of step back. The very first player I remember making his MLB debut was his dad Al Leiter. It was with the Yankees on September 15, 1987. I was almost 8 years old and I really don't remember anything about the actual game. I just thought it was very cool that I was seeing a guy start his career and I thought it would be fun to follow his career. I had to look it up just now but he pitched pretty well that day (6 IP, 1 ER, 4 BB, 8 K). It was so long ago, it was against the Brewers who were in the American League.

Focus On Sport. Getty Images.

Al ended up having one of the weirder careers of any starting pitcher in his generation. He was only 21 when he made that Yankee debut and wound up getting traded a couple years later by a desperate Yankee team to the Blue Jays for aging outfielder Jesse Barfield. Leiter almost instantly got hurt (partly because the Yankee manager at the time Dallas Green left Leiter in for far too long in starts) with Toronto. From 1990-92, he pitched a total of 8 games. He suffered elbow, blister and a number of shoulder issues.

He managed to transform himself at the age of 27 as a durable starting pitcher and wound up winning a World Series in 1993 with the Blue Jays and another in 1997 with the Marlins. He joined the Mets in 1998 and pitched so well for them for 7 years that he is in the Mets Hall of Fame.

I couldn't have picked a better guy to follow his career than Al Leiter. He stuck around in the big leagues until 2005 when a lot of other guys would have given up when they were in injury hell with the Blue Jays in the early 90's. 

Icon Sportswire. Getty Images.

The idea that today his son made his debut really gave me some pause. I thought about how much the world had changed since September of 1987. Watching sports is wildly different now. Hell, I'm writing something called a blog to go on something that you are reading that no one could imagine existing when Al Leiter toed the rubber in his debut in the Bronx.

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It also reminded me that baseball is always there. Not get all James Earl Jones in Field Of Dreams but it really is the constant of my life. I've gotten older and baseball is there. In bad times and good, there is always baseball to look forward too. There is something incredible about being a sports fan that we can enjoy the same things today that we did at 7 years old. There is no place I'm more excited to go to than a Major League Baseball game. I felt the same way 37 years ago.

I'm going to follow Jack's career pretty closely too. It was funny watching the debut here in the Barstool office compared to being in Long Island living room decades earlier. There was a similarity with each game though.

I was sitting compact while watching both.