Among the many great names of baseball past, squarely sits the name Nap Lajoie, who played in the classic era — spending 1896-1916 for the Philadelphia Phillies/Athletics and the Cleveland Bronchos/Naps – yes, a team named after the player himself – finishing his career as a .338 hitter.
Lajoie is the great-uncle of Willie Lajoie, a Chico State infielder who will make his West Coast League debut this coming summer in the uniform of the Victoria HarbourCats. The 5-11/190-pounder from Irvine, California was a standout junior college hitter at Saddleback College, batting .321 in his two seasons with the Gauchos, collecting 27 extra-base hits and 87 RBI.
“It’s the history of the game that captures so many people, and having a descendant of Nap Lajoie here with the team will catch a lot of interest. We’re excited to have Willie join us,” said Jim Swanson, Managing Partner/GM of the HarbourCats. “He drove in 87 runs for Saddleback, he’s a producer who can be a key guy for us.”
Also signed is a player with Victoria connections — versatile Tyler Best of the University of Hawaii, whose uncle is long-time MLB scout Tim Hallgren, a former Seattle draft pick now with the Detroit Tigers after many years with the Dodgers organization. Hallgren was born in Victoria. Best is a sophomore, 6-1/170, from Eagle, Idaho, who started 45 games as a freshman.
The other two signings announced today are outfielder Jack Keiser of the University of San Diego, and outfielder Colton Evans of UC-Davis. Keiser is a 6-1/195 freshman from Palm Beach, Florida, while Evans is a redshirt-sophomore, a 5-9 speedster who played with former HarbourCats Brad Plushkell and Ryan Anderson in his first season at Davis. Evans is from Modesto, California.