With the second half just starting in the 2012 Atlantic League season, the Somerset Patriots have moved forward with a different first baseman. However, that used to be a spot reserved for one guy: Josh Pressley. Pressley, now of the Sugar Land Skeeters, is one of the best players in the history of the Patriots but moved on to play closer to home.
With the Patriots and Skeeters playing a four-game set this week, this is a perfect time to recall an interview from earlier this season. Pressley was just returning to Somerset for the first time as a visitor when I interviewed him.
Pressley is coming into tonight’s game on a 13-game hitting streak, so he is playing to the level that made him a fixture on the Patriots. Pressley is currently hitting .282, with nine home runs, 74 hits, 44 RBI and 32 runs in 73 games played.
Speaking to him before the (April) series, Pressley is happy with his new situation. While his batting average has been low, Pressley is not worried about that. “I feel good…that is just the way it is early in the season. I am trying to see pitches, get my timing down and get a couple of hits to fall.
Talking about playing for a new organization, Pressley is optimistic. “It is a lot of fun…it’s not often that you can be a part of something brand new. (Manager) Gary (Gaetti) is great to play for; all the guys are real professional and we are having a good time together playing good baseball.”
Talking about the Gaetti, the former four-time Gold Glover, Pressley is very complimentary. “Gary is great…he’s got more experience than all of us put together,” Pressley said. “He played for a long time and had a great career. He knows the game, the ups and downs and he is a player’s guy – he lets us go out there and play and keeps it loose. It is a joy to pick somebody’s brain like that with the experience that he has.”
After spending five years in Somerset, winning two Atlantic League championships (2008 and 2009), the 2008 league MVP and making five AL All-Star games, Pressley has fond memories of his time in Somerset. “It was the most fun I have had in my baseball career,” Pressley said.
“It was an unbelievable time…very few people are lucky enough to be a part of a team that stuck together for that long, that close, that many friendships and won that many games. I just feel really blessed that I was able to be a part of it and be (in Somerset) in that time, go through what we went through and the run that we made. It was something that I will remember for the rest of my life.”
Coming back to Somerset as a visitor was quite an experience for Pressley. “It is a little different,” Pressley said. “A lot of familiar faces and obviously (Somerset) means a lot to me…this was my home for five years and will always hold a place in my heart. All the memories, friends and relationships I made here will always mean a lot to me…it is a strange feeling, but it is good to be in familiar surroundings.”
One key for Pressley was the fans here at Somerset and what they meant to them coming back for the first time. “I love the fans here and they were always so great to me,” said Pressley. “In all honesty, it’s going to be great to see everybody. The city supports this team so much and so many faces became like family to me.”
Coming back in the visitor’s locker room meant not being locker mates with good friend and former teammate Jeff Nettles. Pressley spoke highly of the man that is at the top of most records in the Atlantic League. “I was going to come over and put my stuff in the locker next to him…we were locker mates for five years,” Pressley said.
“It was great seeing Jeff…he is a pro’s pro, he plays hard, puts it on the line every night…he was the one that got me here in the first place. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have experienced everything that I experienced. I would take him at third base any day. It is strange not seeing him around me in the lineup but we fed off each other for a lot of years.”
Pressley was supposed to retire after the 2011 season, but had a change of heart after visiting family in the Houston area, close to the Skeeters home. “I [visited] family in the area and they talked about wishing they had seen me play more,” said Pressley.
“I came home after Thanksgiving, and I said if I could go down there and play…be around the 15 family members down there and if something could be worked out, that would be something I should look into. Somerset was great and they wanted what was best for me…the opportunity came out of nowhere and next thing you know, I was ready to play another season.”
While Josh Pressley has left the Patriots and started fresh at Sugar Land, his great moments will never be forgotten and he is one of the best to play for the organization.