Your donation will support the student journalists of Omaha Westside High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.
Westside players make it to the big leagues
October 24, 2022
Uncertainty. The feeling former Westside baseball superstar, Darin Ruf experienced when he took his talents overseas to South Korea, in hopes of returning to Major League Baseball. Ruf had been drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 20th round of the 2009 MLB Draft out of Creighton University. He spent about five seasons in the city of brotherly love before he was traded to the Dodgers in November of 2016 in a package for Howie Kendrick, a future National League playoffs most valuable player. Ruf would never take the field at Chavez Ravine though, and essentially disappeared.
“Playing in the big leagues again? I didn’t know,” Ruf said. “I went over there with the intention of playing well and helping my team, as well as get better as a player, and work on some things that one day would lead to another opportunity in the big leagues.”
Ruf would get that chance again, as he signed with the San Francisco Giants on January 23rd, 2020. Family ties and location led Ruf to make that decision.
“When it came down to choosing what team, I didn’t have too many options,” Ruf said. “It was between the Giants and one other team. We were living in Scottsdale at the time, and the Giants spring training facility was 15 minutes away from our house, so it was a pretty easy decision. I also wanted to play in a more offensive Triple-A league, and San Francisco had that.”
Ruf exploded for San Francisco with a batting average of .261 and 16 home runs in 2021, helping lead the team to the best record in baseball. Ruf got off to a slower start in 2021, yet was traded to the Mets at the deadline for a hefty package including JD Davis, who hit .307 in 2019.
“I can only go where they tell me to go,” Ruf said. “Just have to do the best I can as a player to help the team.”
There’s only one other active former Warrior in Major League Baseball, and that’s Jake Meyers. Meyers was drafted in the 13th round of the 2017 MLB Draft out of the University of Nebraska. Meyers was very productive throughout his whole minor league upbringing, winning Pacific Coast League postseason honors, and hitting a whopping .343 in 2021 for Sugarland, Houston’s Triple-A affiliate. Mindset was crucial for Jake during this time.
“I have learned a lot about mindset, and the mental side of athletics,” Meyers said. “I was really locked into the things I felt were important, and I tried to not let other things trap me.”
Meyers was called up to the Houston Astros on July 31, 2021. He would hit .260 the rest of the 2021 campaign, and his team fell just short of a World Series championship. Meyers was sent up and down between Triple-A Sugarland and the Astros all during the 2022 season. He hit a solid .306 in Triple-A through 144 at bats and a decent .227 through in the majors.
“I’ve learned a ton,” Meyers said. “I mean, this is the best baseball in the world. At every level I had to learn something. It was more mental when I got to the big leagues though, more about handling pressure.”
Former Westside baseball head coach Bob Greco, emphasized the impressive mental toughness and talent of these two Westside All-State standouts.
“They were resilient and they kept after it,” Greco said. “There were kids who hit the ball further, ran faster, threw harder, but nobody was near the temperament and mental toughness.”
Greco is so proud of his former players, who helped him win seven state championships. He believes their success in their careers can be attributed to the Ruf and Meyers families.
“I think it’s a tribute to their families and themselves,” Greco said. “They get their competitiveness from home. Coaches like to take credit for that, but I don’t believe that.”