Local product Chase Silseth gets starting nod in CMWS
FARMINGTON — Chase Silseth got the opportunity that countless kids from Farmington have dreamed of: playing for the Midland Redskins in the Connie Mack World Series.
Silseth, a Farmington native and incoming senior at Piedra Vista, spent the summer traveling to tournaments as one of Midland's pitchers, and got the chance to pitch in front of a hometown crowd in Game 14 of the CMWS.
Silseth said he was a little nervous when he learned Friday night that he'd be starting Saturday's game against the Danville Hoots. But he woke up Saturday morning ready to go.
"I've been thinking about it all summer," he said before the game. "(Friday) night I was a little nervous after my coach told me, but now I'm ready to go. I've been ready to go. I have this opportunity that's pretty big."
Silseth's journey to playing for Midland started more than a decade ago. In 2004, his family began hosting Midland players for the series through the foster family program. The 4-year-old Silseth found his way into the Redskins' dugout as a bat boy, hanging out with the likes of future big-leaguers Cameron Maybin, Eric Hosmer and Matt Harvey, and sitting with Midland founder and longtime coach "Papa" Joe Hayden during the games.
"Before every game I'd sit on (Hayden's) lap or sit next to him. We'd just talk. Even when a pitcher was doing bad on the mound, I'd say, 'Papa Joe, you need to get him out,'" Silseth said.
Hayden told Silseth that one day Silseth would be playing for him and Midland. Unfortunately, Hayden passed away a few years ago, and Silseth never got the chance to play for him. But the old coach still serves as motivation for Silseth. Midland wears Hayden's initials, JPH, on the sleeve of their uniforms, and every time Silseth steps on the field, he looks down at the stitched initials and thinks of Hayden.
Outside of being the team's bat boy, Silseth first joined the Midland organization in 2015 as a bullpen catcher. He did such a good job that the program invited him to join its 16U team as a catcher in 2016, but that didn't last long.
Silseth wanted the chance to pitch. The coaches gave him an opportunity, and after his first game on the mound, he was told he wouldn’t need his catcher's gear anymore because he'd be pitching the rest of the summer.
He was invited back this summer as a pitcher for Midland's 17U team. But again, after one outing at the start of the summer, the plan changed. He was so impressive that Midland moved him up to the Redskins' roster, the top team in the organization.
"He's darn good. He's done an awesome job for us all summer," Midland coach Dave Evans said of Silseth. "He came up last summer and had a good summer. He got a lot better last summer and followed the process. We knew there was a good possibility he'd be on the roster at some point this summer."
Right as Midland was making the decision to pull Silseth up to the 'Skins, he began getting a lot of attention from major-college programs. Missouri, Tennessee and Arizona State all started calling him. Then he was selected by the Cincinnati Reds for the Area Code Games, and once the CMWS is over, he'll head to Long Beach, Calif., to join the rest of his team for the games that run through Aug. 10.
The future is certainly bright for Silseth. With scholarship offers from major-college programs waiting, he plans to make a decision in the next month or so. But until then, he's more than content enjoying his dream of playing for Midland in the CMWS.
"As a young kid growing up in a town that hosts such a great event like this, it becomes a dream. I thought of it like that," Silseth said. "This event, I hope it never leaves Farmington because it gives kids something to dream for."
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.