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All American Game | Story | 10/24/2019

O'Dowd Is A Product Of Many

Blake Dowson        
Photo: Jack O’Dowd (Perfect Game)

Cal Ripken, a friend of Dan O’Dowd’s, came over to the house for dinner one night when he was in Denver for business.

O’Dowd, then the General Manager of the Colorado Rockies, had a two-year-old son, Jack O'Dowd, who wouldn’t take a baseball glove off his hand the entire time Ripken was there.

Jack’s mother, Jackie, said Ripken wanted to see if the two-year-old could track a baseball into his glove. He rolled a baseball toward Jack, and Jack watched it into the glove.

Taking groundballs from a Hall of Fame shortstop at two years old isn’t a bad way to start a career in baseball.

According to Jackie, though, that wasn’t even the start.

“Before he could walk, he would sit on the floor with his little plastic bat in his hand and this little tee that would rock,” Jackie said. “I would put the plastic ball on the tee and he would sit there on the ground and hit.

“Jack was probably one and a half or two [years old], he would wait up for Dan to get home from a game until 11 p.m. or midnight just so Dan would pitch to him, and then he would run the bases in our family room. He hit all day long. I would take him into the backyard and throw pitches to him when he was little. I couldn’t get him in the house. I had to tell him that when it gets dark, foxes would come into our backyard. That was the only way I could get him into the house.”

Fast-forward eight years, and Troy Tulowitzki is coming over to the O’Dowd house to take Jack out to dinner for his birthday. Troy and his wife, Danyll, were thinking about having a child and wanted to see what it was like to be with a young kid in a restaurant.

Before they left for dinner, Jack made Tulo walk up to his room so he could show him the life-size Fat Head sticker he had of the Rockies shortstop on his wall.

Fast-forward eight more years, and Jack is now himself one of the top shortstop prospects in his class, after sharing experiences with a few of the best to ever play the position.

Eleven Perfect Game All-Tournament Team selections proceeded his selection as a Perfect Game All-American this season, as well as a commitment to play college ball at Vanderbilt.

Playing at the WWBA World Championship in Jupiter earlier this month, Jack suited up for Scorpions Founders Club, one of the favorites heading into the tournament and eventual semifinalist.

He said he never takes those experiences – whether it’s hanging out with big leaguers or playing in the PG All-American or Worlds – for granted.

“It’s just cool to be able to create these relationships with people along the way, with all these guys,” Jack said. “That’s really cool, because I’ll be playing with or against these guys for the rest of my career now. To build a relationship from scratch and build it along the way is really cool.”

The relationship Jack has with his brother, Chris, is the most influential one in his life. The way Jack described it, Chris was always there while Dan was in the middle of the rigors of being a Major League GM.

Chris, who is 10 years older than Jack and himself was a great player, took Jack under his wing.

“My brother has been the biggest influence in my life,” Jack said. “Since my dad traveled a lot when I was younger, I was around my brother a lot. He taught me a lot, and he taught me everything I know and love about baseball. The ethics and morals that I carry with me all came from my brother, so he’s been a huge influence on me, and I hope I can live up to the type of person he’s been.”

Dan gets to wear the dad hat when he watches Jack play, a nice change of pace for him. He was down in Jupiter to watch Jack play a couple games for the Scorpions.

He sees the influence his eldest son has had on his youngest, and knows how important that experience has been for both of them.

“Following Chris around was a big deal for him,” Dan said, who now works for the MLB Network and provided on-air analysis during the 2019 Perfect Game All-American Classic. “He went to all of his high school games, he was the bat boy for the team. Chris was by far his idol. He looked up to him so much, and he was a big part of Chris’ life, too. I do think Chris’ love and passion for the game filtered down to Jack, much more so than what I did.”

Putting his scouting hat back on, Dan said Jack reminds him of Ryan McMahon, a player O’Dowd drafted when he was with the Rockies.

McMahon, the No. 25 overall prospect in the 2013 class and second round pick in the 2013 draft, played all over the infield for the Rockies this season, something O’Dowd has shown he’s capable of doing as well.

“Ryan had a little bit more power at this age, Jack has a little bit more hitability at this age,” Dan said of the two. “Athletically, I think they’re very similar…body types are really very similar, and I think Jack’s power is going to come as he matures and fills out.”

Dan said Jack didn’t pay much attention to his work when they lived in Colorado. At most games, Jack was throwing a ball against the walls of the suite instead of watching the game on the field.

As true as that may be, Jack has taken plenty from his father, and has used those lessons to carve out his own path.

“He’s been a big influence to me,” Jack said. “Growing up, I always looked at how he went about his business and how he handled his relationships with people. Just overall, his work ethic on a daily basis taught me how to reach where I want to go in this sport. Hopefully I can make a name for myself and show that the work I’ve put in for myself is good work and it can pay off.”



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