Jesse Hoorelbeke’s Final Frontier; First Baseman Fulfilling Goal of Playing for Somerset
Added by Philip Mathew on June 14, 2012.
Somerset first baseman, Jesse Hoorelbeke, may be playing his final season of organized baseball.
After playing some of his best years in the Atlantic League as a record-breaking home run hitter, Somerset Patriots first baseman Jesse Hoorelbeke sees 2012 as possibly his final year. The 34-year-old from Spokane, WA looks at Somerset as a great place to finish his career, but this opportunity may have never taken place.
Hoorelbeke, the 2007 Atlantic League Co-Player of the Year may have never come to play at Somerset.
“I thought last year was going to be my last year playing (for the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks),” Hoorelbeke said. “I didn’t have the best year (due to the situation). I always told myself before I am done playing, I wanted to play somewhere where I enjoyed it and had a good time.”
Playing in the Atlantic League has been good for Hoorelbeke and his career.
“I have always said that Atlantic League teams could hold their own with any Triple-A team out there,” Hoorelbeke said.
“The level of play, the level of competition and professionalism in this league is unmatched…this league is a great place to play if you can’t get back into affiliated or if you are trying to get back (into affiliated ball). In here, if you don’t do well, you don’t have a job. If you do well, you have a job and a chance to get back in (to affiliated ball).”
Hoorelbeke has been in the Dodgers, Mariners, Cubs and Angels organizations, getting as high as Triple-A with the Cubs and Angels. The aspect of Hoorelbeke’s game that got him up the ladder is his home run hitting prowess.
Hoorelbeke is one of the greatest home run hitters in the history of the Atlantic League, with 159 home runs over three and a half years playing in the league. Talking about this aspect, Hoorelbeke has always had this ability.
“I have always had power, but I didn’t have knowledge for hitting,” Hoorelbeke said. “I had a coach in affiliated ball, Brian Traxler, who taught me about hitting the ball the other way and staying inside baseballs. He gave me the ground rules and basis and I built from there.”
Another coach in affiliated ball really took Hoorelbeke to the next level.
“A couple of years ago, when I was in the Mariners Double-A, and came to this league that I learned about focus, balance and seeing the ball early,” Hoorelbeke said.
“I learned it from a guy named Bill Harrison. He taught me about focus and visualizing…he really stuck with me and helped me take the power that I had and put good swings on the baseball.”
Being a veteran, Hoorelbeke has also learned the people game and how to handle himself on and off the field.
“I am the same…I come out here and have a good time – I don’t let the game get the best of me,” Hoorelbeke said.
“I try to keep it light-hearted. I am serious about playing hard, I am serious about winning and I will give it everything I got…but I leave it on the field. When I am with family and friends, I like to have a good time. With this group of guys that we have here, these are some of the best guys that I have ever been around.”
About this organization, Hoorelbeke always looked up to what they were doing and how they run a team.
“Sparky (Lyle) and Brett Jodie have done an amazing job of bringing this group of guys…in all my years of playing, this is the best group of guys to get along with,” Hoorelbeke said.
“It’s great (to play for Somerset). I always admired this organization when I played against them and now that I am playing for them, I can tell why I admired them. (The organization) takes care of (the players); they like being here and they take care of the facilities. It is very nice to be on this team, after seeing them for a couple of years because it satisfied all of my questions of why it is so nice (in Somerset).”
Playing for Sparky Lyle has been an enjoyable experience for Hoorelbeke.
“Sparky is great,” Hoorelbeke said. “He is so relaxed and is out here to have a good time and play the game. You can tell he respects the game and loves the games. Compared to other managers I have had, he is out here to watch baseball, coach baseball and have a good time. Sparky lets you be you.”
A major influence on Hoorelbeke’s decision (to possibly retire) is his 12-year-old son from a previous marriage and his own experiences with his father, as the oldest of three siblings.
“(My son) lives in southern Idaho and I don’t get to see him often when I am out playing,” Hoorelbeke said.
“My family lives in Spokane, WA/Couer D’Alene ID area, and he’s a couple hours away driving and we spend time together (during the offseason). I want to grow that relationship with him and be there in his teen years.”
His father was also on the road but was able to balance his work life with family.
“My dad was a musician in the 1970’s and he was gone a lot as a kid,” Hoorelbeke said. “He was also there a lot – as my baseball coach, setting rules and leading by example. He is still a big part of my life, my brother’s life and sister’s life and I want to be that for my son.”
For Somerset Patriots fans, this may be the last season you have to watch one of the most prolific home run hitters in Atlantic League history.