Travis Jankowski: A hometown boy done good

WASHINGTON — The date Aug. 19, 2015 is one Travis Jankowski will never forget. It’s the day he got called to Major League Baseball to join the San Diego Padres.

I read the news on Facebook and noticed he went to Lancaster Catholic High School — just like me. Of course, I quickly checked the Padres schedule to see when Jankowski would be in D.C. I work in the District and thought it would be cool to chat with a fellow Pennsylvania guy.

Jankowsi — a 2009 LCHS graduate — got a hit in his first game, in his first at bat, in front of friends and family. He’s been on cloud 9 ever since.

“It’s been exciting, it’s been emotional,” Jankowski told WTOP. “It’s honestly been a blessing and a dream come true.”

He was in the on-deck circle, waiting to lead off, when he got the news. The coach told him he couldn’t play because he was called up to San Diego. “I looked at him and said ‘alright, man, don’t joke about that’,” Jankowski recalled. He went to the dugout, where his teammates greeted him with handshakes and hugs.

Jankowski admits being nervous in his first Major League game. “You do not wanna drop a fly ball on national TV, or make an error,” he said. “I was a little more nervous in the outfield, but after that first put out, [a] weight lifted off my shoulder.”

After he graduated, Jankowski attended Stony Brook University, where in 2012, he helped the Seawolves to their first ever appearance in the College World Series. In 2015, Jankowski helped Team USA Baseball to a silver medal at the Pan Am Games.

Jankowski quickly rose through the Padres farm system; when fellow outfielder Will Venable was traded to Texas, it opened up playing time for him with San Diego.

Before our interview, I told him we graduated from the same high school. The Padres’ game on Friday in Philadelphia is the closest Jankowski will play in front of his loved ones this season. He said he has to get at least 70 tickets to the game for family.

Jankowski said the initial shock of the call up is still there. A few games in, he says the majors are much quicker than the minor leagues. He misses the food of Lancaster County and the lard we use for baking.

Still, playing baseball has been a lifelong dream. And while he doesn’t know what the offseason will bring, Jankowski will spend more time in Lancaster. He’ll work on his speed and build more power.

I guess a part of me, like Travis — being a LCHS grad, loving baseball, and working in sports for a living — is what drew me to want to tell his story. He’s a hometown kid done good. I wanted to show, that just like Travis, that I too am pursuing a dream, which started in Lancaster some 20 years ago.

There’s a connection there. A dream — years and miles apart — can sometimes be closer than you think, if you just reach out and try.

J. Brooks

J. Brooks is a Sports Anchor and Reporter with years of experience not only in the DMV but nationally through Westwood One, ESPN, CBS and SiriusXM. J., striving to be a cartoon voice, is also an actor appearing in many films and TV shows and who entertains the newsroom with his many impressions.

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