Next up on our Sault Legends list is pitcher Kai Tuomi.
Tuomi played in the minor leagues until 2011 when injuries and time started to catch up with him.
“It was time to move on to real work,” he said. “It was really at a point where injuries were starting to mount up.”
He plays first base now for a men’s league in Indiana.
Kai started playing at the age of four. He named Don and Jim Myers that started him off. “They were great coaches to start me off and make it fun.”
Ed Jordan and Mike Lebel were part of that training too. “You hear a lot of youth baseball and pitchers being overworked.” This was not the case with Jordan and Lebel and the Jr. Black Sox.
“They’ve been building that league for 20 years.” And as for the competition, Kai says there was plenty of that; playing with teams from Michigan that gave them a good run.
As for today if he is still involved in baseball he says “it’s hard to make that transition.” He is looking to do some coaching at the high school level. But giving up baseball was a hard thing to do. You could just tell in his voice. He said it became hard chasing down teams in the minors for 8 years and with his shoulder injury it was like a red flag to teams.
He did put in a solid 25 years of baseball when you look at it though.
He said he watches on television guys in the majors that he played with years ago.
But he says he was “glad to be a part of it as long as I was able to.”
He had a great run in Evansville, getting his ERA down to 2.76 in his last year of college.
That year proved to be the jumping off point.
“Half way through the season I was getting letters,” he says from bigger teams.
That’s when he was drafted to the Washington Nationals.
“Your name on a Nationals jersey and a locker set up and all I had to do was think about baseball,” he says were what made him excited about the draft.
Rookie ball must have been trying for him being on the field 8-9 hrs. a day. But when you get to rub shoulders with Devon White of the Blue Jays, it can’t be that bad.
“I would do it all again; no question; no regrets,” Tuomi says of his career.
Some of his achievements were making the final list for baseball player of the year, the prestigious Wallace Award, which David Price got that year.
He and his Evansville team set a ton of school records for the class of ’07.
In the Missouri Valley Conference, he was the winning pitcher for the winning game.
He even sat the bench and warmed up with the Baltimore Orioles once.
In 2006 he played in the Northwood Summer League with the Thunder Bay Border Cats which is “the best college summer league there is.”
His strength was that with any given count he said he could throw any number of combinations of pitches in any area needed. “They would never really have any idea what was coming next.”
He also didn’t want to forget to thank him mom and dad for all the support they gave him over the years.
“My goal was to make it all they way and once I had problems with my arm…” that goal was left behind. “There was no easy game,” Kai said.