Callihan builds on journey

Photo: Tyler Callihan (Perfect Game)

Nate Schweers
Published: Wednesday, August 8, 2018

See also: Classic supports Rady Children's Hospital

While San Diego is over 2,300 miles from Tyler Callihan’s hometown of Neptune Beach, Florida, it has virtually become a second home for one of baseball’s brightest young stars. After flying to San Diego to participate in the Perfect Game Underclass All-American Games over the last two years, Tyler Callihan will return for the big one next week: the Perfect Game All-American Classic.

The Classic, which will take place at Petco Park on the night of August 12, is a culmination of constant hard work and dedication by Callihan and the other 51 players that have been picked to participate. While some players jumped on to the scene at this year’s PG National Showcase, Callihan has been showcasing his stuff in San Diego a while.

“The past couple years, the Underclass Games have kind of been one of those events that are at the end of the summer, and you go because it's a great opportunity,” said Callihan during a recent phone interview with Perfect Game. “It was also a great chance to see the big game [PG All-American Classic] both those years. I have been watching that game for years, and now I have gotten the call to be in it myself and that is so exciting."

The Perfect Game All-American Classic is more than just a chance for Callihan to play the middle infield on MLB Network. With events like the home run challenge, scrimmages and a trip to Rady Children’s Hospital, the PG All-American Classic provides a great chance for players to make new friends, gain new experiences and make a difference in the community.

“I really enjoy the community outreach program, so I think that will be really fun,” said Callihan of visiting the Rady Children’s. “Also, it has been so much fun this summer to be around the guys, and I have gotten really close with them. Just being around them all is so much fun, and getting to know them even better than I already do is something I’m excited for.”

Callihan, who is a long-time alum of Perfect Game events, was actually just finishing up a game at LakePoint when he got the call that he would be participating in this week’s PG All-American Classic. While games at LakePoint can mean a long day in the hot sun, getting the call was a refreshing moment.

“I walked out of the bathroom, and my dad came up to me and he was like ‘we got the call’,” Callihan recalled. “I was around all of my teammates and they were all so happy for me. It was just a really good moment in my baseball career.”

With the baseball career that Callihan has had, it says a lot about the Perfect Game All-American Classic that this was such an exciting moment. On top of playing in the Underclass All-American Games twice, Callihan is a three-time Preseason Underclass All-American, a two-time participant in the PG Junior National Showcase and a 12-time member of an All-Tournament Team at a Perfect Game event.

With such an impressive collection of achievements on the Perfect Game circuit, Callihan found himself with a final chance to showcase his talent at both the 17u WWBA National Championship and PG National Showcase this summer.

“The WWBA’s are always so much fun because there are so many different teams in the event, and the PG National was a great event,” Callihan said. “Being at Tropicana and playing with all those guys was a great experience.”

Before playing with Elite Squad during this year’s summer circuit, Callihan had the chance to learn and compete with the best while playing for the Central Florida Gators. Playing with each other all throughout high school, this tight-knit group had four players drafted in the first round of the 2018 MLB Draft: Matthew Liberatore, Carter Stewart, Nolan Gorman and Mason Denaburg.

In today’s day and age, it is uncommon for teams like this to play together throughout their entire high school careers. As a younger member of the Gators team full of talent, Callihan found himself with opportunities to be around guys who could give him insight and guidance into the draft and college recruiting process a year early.

“Those guys have impacted me so much. Between Mason, Libby (Liberatore), and Nolan, those guys were literally my best friends. For example, I have been playing with Nolan up the middle since I was 12 years old, and he is literally my best friend. We call each other all the time, and he is always there for me no matter what it is.”

While Denaburg and Liberatore were drafted as pitchers, the bond he had with them is still one that has stood the test of time. Callihan is preparing for his senior season and the draft process, and having three best friends drafted in the first round certainly helps make the process easier.

“Mason was always my guy to cheer me up no matter what. I always went out with all of them, and we really created a special bond throughout.”

While learning about the draft process can be beneficial for a player of Callihan’s caliber, he is also looking forward to playing his college baseball at South Carolina in the fall of 2019. A dream school since he was just a kid, South Carolina was an easy choice for Callihan when the time came.

“When I was 10 years old, my travel coach was driving me up to a travel ball tournament in Myrtle Beach. He saw the exit for Columbia, so he asked us if we wanted to go and see the University of South Carolina. We pulled off and there was a scrimmage going on. I caught a foul ball, and so of course little me thought it was the greatest school ever created.”

Callihan continued to follow South Carolina through a pair of national championships and many deep tournament runs. Now as a rising senior, he finds himself as a member of the Gamecocks’ 2019 recruiting class that ranks as the 24th-best in the country according to the Perfect Game recruiting rankings.

“It was everything I ever dreamed of coming true when I got a scholarship offer,” Callihan said. “Truly a rewarding experience.”

Callihan has enjoyed success and friendships throughout his baseball career that have led him to the PG All-American Classic. If one thing is certain, Callihan has set himself up for one of his best years yet and the future is bright for this shortstop from Neptune Beach.

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