Tommy Pham pursues his Major League dreams.
BY KIMBERLY BAILEY-TUREAUD
Tommy Pham has known for a long time that he wanted a professional baseball career. The 27-year-old Las Vegas native’s natural dexterity in the sport was sharpened while attending Gorman, Centennial and Durango high schools.
“I asked one of my friends, Chad Robertson, who played professional baseball, how he got discovered,” says Pham. “He indicated that I had to participate in a baseball showcase circuit, and then he knew I would do good enough to be invited to the Top 100 showcase.”
In his junior year, Pham learned of a baseball showcase taking place in San Diego. He was confident he was ready for his big break and persuaded his mother to pay the $500 entrance fee. Not only did he participate in the showcase, but the experience proved to be the first step toward fulfilling his dream of playing professional baseball.
“The first baseball showcase I did well and then I kept getting invited to other showcases,” Pham explained. “I went to the All American Games and other showcases and people really started talking about my baseball abilities and it really took off from there. I was drafted in June 2006 by the St. Louis Cardinals.
He made it to a professional team, but there were some challenges. Physical injuries that followed vigorous defensive plays momentarily sidelined Pham’s budding baseball career. “I started out in the minor league for a long time, and many of those years I had some injuries so I spent a lot of time going through some surgeries that prevented me from playing many games from 2011 to 2013. I wasn’t called up to play on the main team until 2014.”
In the last couple of years, his baseball career made a dramatic comeback. “This last season proved to be one of my best and I had a few starts because some of the other starters couldn’t play because of injuries and that gave me the opportunity to step in and finally get some shine,” he said. “I did really well, and personally I can do a lot better offensively. I know I can do more — and my numbers are well above average.”
As with most professional sports, players who expect to secure a contract from a Major League Baseball team must be willing to regularly put forth hard work, show dedication and have a passion for the sport. “Many people are unaware that it takes a little luck and you have to perform well in preseason baseball camps to be considered as a main starter for a team,” says Pham.
“But it’s very possible for me to start, come the new season. There are guys ahead of me and the coaches might have their favorites they want to see start for the new season. Nonetheless, I believe my abilities are too good for me to sit as a bench player. The league started to see that late in the season. There is no guaranteed opportunity to play until you sign one of those big contracts.”
The Cardinals’ training camp begins in February in Florida. Until then Pham is back home in Las Vegas, and he’s not resting on his laurels. He’s giving back to the community — working with local children, guiding them to fulfill their aspirations of a career in baseball. Pham says, “I recently held a camp for children 6 to 13 years of age, along with some of my other baseball friends, that was free to help give some baseball knowledge back to our local Las Vegas children. I want them to know that they must believe in themselves and they are the only ones who can ever put limits on themselves.”