Former Falcon keeps pro dream alive

Andrew Clayman and Andrew Clayman

Almost every Little Leaguer and sandlot star has fantasized about playing professional baseball, but for the overwhelming majority, it is a dream that is never realized.

Corey Loomis is one of the lucky ones. After a phenomenal junior season with the Falcons in 2002 (which included a team best .404 batting average), the Pemberville native made the difficult decision to leave the college ranks and chase his dreams in the pros. Chosen by the Detroit Tigers in the 21st round of last summer’s amateur draft, Loomis began a rollercoaster ride that has brought him full circle in less than a year’s time.

The Tiger organization had come calling on Loomis before, having selected him in the 38th round of the 1999 draft. In that instance, the Eastwood High graduate opted instead to hone his skills under coach Danny Schmitz at Bowling Green. This time around, Loomis took Detroit up on its offer, reporting to the team’s Class A short season affiliate in Oneonta, New York. While there, Loomis would learn that maintaining one’s dream can be just as challenging as reaching it.

In some ways, life in the New York Penn League was not too dissimilar from the college baseball life. There were long bus trips, less than ideal field conditions, and small but devoted crowds in attendance. The quality of talent on the field, however, was clearly on another level.

“The pitching and the speed of the game were very different from college,” Loomis said. “All the pitchers had great command. College pitchers usually have maybe two good pitches, but a minor league pitcher may have a good fastball, change-up, and a nice slider or split-fingered pitch, too. And every pitch, they know exactly where it’s going.”

Despite the improved competition, Loomis’ biggest adjustment came not at the plate, but in the acceptance of a new role and a lack of consistent playing time.

“All in all, it was a great experience,” he said. “But when you are used to being out there everyday as I was in college, not playing everyday really hurt the most.”

With Oneonta’s young roster all hoping to gain the attention of Tiger management during a short summer season, it’s easy for talented players to get lost in the shuffle. After being the Falcons’ dependable second baseman for the past few years, Loomis was now in and out of the line-up, as other prospects battled him for playing time.

By season’s end, Loomis had appeared in just 32 games, driving in 17 runs and finishing with a .218 batting average. Not given a true opportunity to open any eyes, Loomis was released by the Tigers this spring, putting his professional career on hold. Today, Corey Loomis is back where it all started, in Bowling Green. Though he is no longer under a pro contract and ineligible to rejoin his old Falcon teammates on the field, Loomis has a positive outlook on where he’s been, where he is, and where he’s going.

“I don’t really regret (going pro),” he said. “Being back home and talking to the guys that are still playing, it kind of makes you think a bit, ‘Did I do the right thing?’ But at the time, it was the right decision, and I don’t regret it.”

There is no reason to be regretful when your story is still writing itself. Loomis is far from giving up on baseball or his dreams to achieve success in the pros.

“Right now, I am working out with the team and with (former BG shortstop) Nick Elrod. Nick’s playing for the Chillicothe Paints in an independent league (Frontier League), and I will be playing down there this summer. So we’ll have our old double play combination back together. I’m looking forward to that.”

Loomis hopes that a successful showing this summer may spark the attention of scouts once more. He knows that persistence is the name of the game in baseball, where failing seven out of ten times still makes you a great hitter.

“After I was released by the Tigers, people told me to just keep playing. You’re never down and out as long as you keep playing. So I’m just going to keep playing and see what happens.” Such a philosophy is fitting for one of the best to ever don the orange and brown.