Saltdogs LHP Tommy Palica announced his retirement from baseball Saturday, one day after his final start. The former 10th round pick of the Atlanta Braves finished his career with a record of 24-21 and a 4.90 ERA. He struck out 383 batters in 364 innings, reaching as high as Double-A. Below are his reflections:
"This year has been a pretty interesting season and it definitely hasn’t gone the way I was hoping for it to go.
I came in at the best shape I’ve ever been in, hoping to get one more shot at affiliated ball. I obviously didn’t pitch the way I know I can pitch and that kind of stuff happens. As young baseball players, our number one goal is to get to the Big Leagues and that has not changed throughout my entire career (from little league to affiliated ball). I’ve always believed that if you’re good enough, you’ll get a shot. And I’ve had plenty of opportunities to get to the Big Leagues. All you can ask for in this game is an opportunity.
This may sound cliche but I left it all out on the field and I know I did everything in my power to succeed and it just didn’t come to fruition this year. Some people can call me a quitter or what not and that’s fine. I just know I don’t see it that way and I know my family and all my close friends at home don’t see it that way because they all know what Ive gone through this year and the second half of last year. The people I love and the people who have supported me throughout my professional career are the people who truly matter in my life and they support this decision that I’ve made and I’m so thankful for them.
I’ve always told myself that once baseball stops being fun and I stop enjoying going to the ball field to play then it’s time to move on. And that’s where I’m at now. I’m ready to move on with my life. I was extremely inspired by my sister, Stacy when i got to see her graduate from college this past May and I really want to go back and finish school to get my degree. It’s something that I’ve wanted to accomplish eventually but seeing her graduate, knowing all the hard work she put in, really made me want to get serious about it. I’m thinking of majoring in History and becoming a History teacher and maybe a high school or college pitching coach. Who knows, maybe become a professional pitching coach.
I’m really looking forward to this next chapter in my life and I’m excited to see what it has in store for me. I believe that the goals you make in life don’t have to be set in stone. Things change, life changes, so why can’t goals change? My goal was to get to the Big Leagues and I can see that it’s time to change that goal. It’s time to do something else and I’m extremely happy with that.
My time in Lincoln has been enjoyable and I appreciate everyone who has accommodated me the past two years. Charlie Meyer, Tim Utrup, and the entire front office have made my time in Lincoln better than I could have imagined. The fans are extremely supportive out here.
Drew, the radio guy has really made listening to the games enjoyable for my mom, dad, sister, grandma, and grandpa. My grandma thinks he should be a big league broadcaster because she thinks he’s way better than a lot of the ones she hears on TV.
Our trainers: Kyle, Ryan, Courtney, and Katie, have really helped me keep healthy and I can’t thank them enough for all the work they’ve done. They helped me heal at the beginning of the season when I had my injury and they’ve done everything I could ask of them and then some.
Steve, the clubby is one the best clubbies I’ve ever had in my career. He really knows how to take care of the players and make sure that all we have to worry about is playing baseball. I’m totally thankful for all the little things he’s done for me and keeping our spreads stocked with awesome food.
The coaching staff has been nothing but supportive of me and has taken care of me throughout this season. I’m thankful that they stuck with me this season longer than they probably should have considering how poorly I was performing. That just proves that they believed in me and knew I was a much better pitcher than the results were showing and that is one of the best compliments I could ask for.
I learned so much from Gardy and he was by far one of the best pitching coaches I’ve ever had. He’s done everything he could to help the pitchers succeed.
Beau is the man. Obviously being a pitcher I didn’t get much time with him but he was a great guy to talk to during the game and I totally respected how much time he put in with our hitters. He was always in the cage working with our hitters whenever they wanted. He would never hesitate if someone asked for help. That’s a great quality to have in a coach.
Chris was one of the nicest and classiest managers I’ve ever played for. He really did a lot for me that I know many managers might not do. Whether it was letting me fly home to attend my sister’s graduation or sticking with me through this rough season I’ve had, he did much more than most managers would allow. I’m sure next year will be a much better year for him and the team because I’d really like to see him succeed.
The Mattson Family (my host family) has been by far one of the best host families I’ve ever had. They have made sure that I didn’t have to worry about having a place to live and that I didn’t have to worry about having food to eat. They made sure that all I had to focus on was doing my best out on the field and I can’t thank them enough for all the work and time they invested in helping me these past two summers.
Finally, no one has supported me more throughout my career than my family. They drove me to all my little league games. They were at all my high school games, college games, and they’ve listened to just about every professional game that I’ve pitched in. They’ve supported me through everything. They supported me through the good times and bad times and I’m more thankful for that than anything and anyone."