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Remembering 2013: Patrick Arlis moves on to next career

The dreaded off-season…continues.  But fear not, despite news being a little slower this time of year, we have plenty of content to keep you occupied here at BlogToBlogChamps.  Each Monday, we’ll publish a feature from the 2013 York Revolutionary Times, the official game day magazine of the York Revolution for you to re-enjoy, or read for the first time in case you missed it at the ballpark.  This week, re-visit the decision Patrick Arlis had to make back in July, to cut his season short with the Revolution and retire in order to start his next career as a teacher.

Arlis, Patrick 3

By Paul Braverman

Forgive Patrick Arlis if he isn’t as emotional as you’d expect 20 minutes after his (first) career ended. It helps to know that Arlis, even in his 12th professional season, still seems somewhat surprised he was able to play professional baseball at all.

Arlis had to call it a career after the Revolution’s home game on July 28 against Sugar Land.  He holds a Master’s Degree in elementary education, and had his eye on a possible phys-ed teaching job for a while.  An offer to interview for this school year came unexpectedly in June, and once Arlis was approved by the school board on July 17, he decided he’d end his baseball career to teach fourth, fifth and sixth graders 10 minutes from where he lives in Bourbonnais, Illinois, 70 miles south of Chicago.  While he had planned to be with the Revolution all season, the timing of the school year in Illinois beginning on August 19 made that impossible.

“I was probably going to retire at the end of this year regardless so I could start getting serious about a teaching job.  I’ve been substitute teaching since 2007.  Teaching jobs are hard to find…jobs in general are hard to find.  So to take a job and actually make some money close to home is going to be a good thing.  I played for 12 years, so I’m moving on to something new and excited to start that life,” said Arlis, who had been applying for teaching jobs dating back to last year, but found a shortage of permanent jobs.

Arlis had to briefly leave the team in June to fly home to Illinois after a phone interview.  He then had to teach a lesson with an actual class as part of the interview, and Facetime with the superintendent before it was official.  Arlis is going all in on his new career, as evidenced by the rigorous interview process.  And he isn’t bitter at all about his baseball career – as it pertains to reaching Triple-A but not the Majors, or sitting behind Salvador Paniagua most days this season in York.

“I knew coming in I wouldn’t play every day here and only play once in a while.  But I had always wanted to play here (the Atlantic League), so I helped out the pitchers where I could, I threw batting practice, and I can’t really complain,” said Arlis with a shrug.

As a walk-on at the University of Illinois, he left school with a whopping one semester paid for by scholarship.  The walk-on spot only even opened when a catcher who had committed to Illinois decided to turn pro instead.  Then, the only reason Arlis remained a catcher was because the starter got hurt his freshman year and they needed the depth.

“They were going to turn me into an outfielder but the senior catcher was injured, so I went right back into catching and never stopped,” he said.

A modest hitter, Arlis’ ability behind the plate and his ability to captain a team on defense allowed for his drafting by the Marlins in 2002, beating considerable odds from humble amateur beginnings.  After reaching Triple-A with the Marlins and Brewers, Arlis only has fond memories of his career opposed to bitterness.  He started out in one of Minor League Baseball’s smallest outposts, with the A-Ball Jamestown (NY) Jammers of the New York-Penn League in the summer of 2002, as soon as he left the Illini.

“My Dad gives me a hard time, because when I signed my first contract with the Marlins, he asked “how long does it normally take to make it to the big leagues?  The scout that signed me said ‘you usually know in three to four years.’  So he’d joke with me and say ‘it’s year number eight, you know if you’re going to make it to the big leagues yet?

“I’d say, ‘I don’t know Dad, I’m still kinda hangin out.’  This is actually probably harder on him than on me.  Me playing gave him something to do during the summer, he’d visit me wherever I was playing.”

Arlis, who married in December, is anticipating having children sooner than later.  While his kids will have missed out on seeing him play, he doesn’t want to stay too far from baseball for long.  Although he’s taking some time away from the game to decompress, he has a lot to teach on the field as well as inside a school, due to his unusual route to a 12-year pro career.

“I’m going to help kids get to where I was at.  Everyone’s like ‘ah, I’m gonna get a scholarship.’  It’s not that easy, scholarships happen, but it’s very rare.”

For now, Arlis is actually going to coach sixth grade basketball, because that’s what they need him for right away.  But a return to the diamond shouldn’t be far, once the opportunity presents itself.  Once again, Arlis shows his humble side.

“I don’t want to come in and take over for someone or push someone out.  I’m definitely interested in coaching, but once the time is right.  It will be nice to be at home around my future kids as they grow up.  It will be nice to travel in the summer.  Because of baseball, next year will be the first summer I’ve been home since 1999.”

Stat sheets can be misleading.  While the Revolution may not appear to be suffering a huge blow if you only look at the handful of games he played in relief of Paniagua, what the stat sheet won’t show is the kind of quality citizen the York clubhouse is losing in Patrick Arlis.  He views his retirement as a player as more of an accomplishment, rather than simply having the clock run out on a long career.

“I was a college walk-on to an 11th round draft pick.  That’s unheard of.  I could’ve been Joe Schmo somewhere else working a desk job going back 12 years, so it’s been a pretty fun ride.”

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