With today being the 4th of July, it seems only fitting that Cole White be today’s profile. White was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 42nd round of the 2008 draft out of the United States Military Academy. The Pirates also took Chris Simmons in the 41st round that year. White and Simmons started out the year with State College, but their seasons ended quickly, due to a policy change with the US Army.
West Point cadets are required to serve two years of active duty upon graduation, although there was an exception for professional athletes, who could delay the obligation until their playing careers were over. In July 2008, the Army changed the policy so that the service time had to come first, making it so that athletes had to serve two years before applying for a release. White was hitting for a .338/.404/.455 line in 77 at-bats at the State College level at the time.
In 2010, White returned to professional baseball, after having served two years of his five year commitment to the Army. He returned to State College and hit for a .250/.327/.396 line in 144 at-bats. At the age of 25 he was a little old for the level, but considering that he had spent the last two years serving our country, being able to put up those numbers without much preparation was very impressive. White is currently with the West Virginia Power, where he’s hitting for a .310/.370/.524 line in 42 at-bats this year. He has one home run, a walk off homer against Lakewood last week.
Baseball players are often considered heroes, and we spend a lot of time talking about MLB service time. The fact is that baseball players just play a sport which is meant to provide us with entertainment. All it takes is a guy like Cole White to put that in perspective. It’s then that we realize that MLB service time isn’t nearly as important as the service time Cole has accumulated in his other career. Regardless of whether White makes the majors, hits more walk off homers, or continues to put up strong numbers, his biggest accomplishment will always be his service to this country, both before the 2010 season, as well as the years he will serve when his baseball career is finished. Baseball players aren’t heroes. They’re athletes that entertain us by playing a sport. The real heroes are guys like White, and everyone else who has served for their country. We salute those heroes today, because without them, we wouldn’t have the luxury of being able to have things like professional baseball.