Mike Farrell was back on his old stomping grounds at Jim Turner Field for the first annual Logansport baseball alumni game on Sunday.
Farrell showed he can still pitch a little bit at the age of 51, as he recorded the save with a scoreless ninth inning as the Black team defeated the Red team 8-7.
“I’m not sure I would say it was ‘fun’ to pitch, but I do think enjoyable to get to hang out with people that you spent your life with. I think that’s the cool part,” Farrell said. “I think that’s probably the reason we do it, nobody cares how well they do, they just want to be out and hang with your people.”
Farrell has lost at least a few MPH’s off his fastball but was able to pitch around a couple of hits to get the save. He also drew three walks in three plate appearances and scored a run.
“The last time I stepped on the mound to pitch I believe was 1998. I was just glad I actually could still get it all the way to the plate and I didn’t blow out my arm,” he said.
Farrell was a star player for the Berries in the 1980s. In fact a freak injury during his senior season in 1987 potentially cost the Berries another state title.
“I try not to say that because we still would have had to win a lot of games,” he said. “We were really good. It was obviously just an unfortunate thing that happened.”
Farrell broke his collarbone during a practice and missed the final 16 games of his senior season. He went 6-0 with a 1.56 ERA before his injury. He went 9-1 with a 0.72 ERA as a junior.
He was also one of the Berries’ top hitters that year. Soon after his injury Dennis Frye suffered a broken bone in his hand on a hit by pitch which caused him to miss the rest of the season.
Despite the injuries the Berries still managed to go 28-4 and finished ranked No. 2 in the coaches’ poll. They defeated Tri-Central 15-0 in a regional game before losing to Huntington North 5-4 in a regional final.
“I was in the hospital and we still made it to the regional, and if we had won the game we lost in the regional, I was coming back the following weekend,” Farrell said. “So I remember a lot of stuff about then. But to this day, coach Turner was the best coach that I ever had. It was probably more about his ability to understand guys than even the stuff he taught. He obviously taught a lot about life. Coach Jones, coach Wild, coach Turner, for me in particular in Logansport there could have been many challenges and they were ones that made it easy for me, so I was pretty fortunate.”
Farrell joined the Logansport-to-Indiana State talent pipeline and went on to play baseball for four years for the Sycamores. As a sophomore he beat Wichita State twice. The Shockers went on to win the national title that year. Farrell’s Sycamores nearly made the College World Series his senior year.
Farrell went undrafted in the MLB draft but signed as a free agent with the Milwaukee Brewers organization. He went 55-40 with a 3.90 ERA at all levels in the minor leagues but never got a cup of coffee in the majors.
“The game is about playing well and it’s about playing well at the right times a little bit, and I just didn’t accomplish that,” he said.
It turned out Farrell had a better eye for talent than he had talent in baseball himself. He was hired by the Brewers as a scout in 1998 and has been a major league scout ever since.
He was hired by the Kansas City Royals in 2014 and has a World Series ring from 2015.
“I was in the Brewers organization coming over to the Royals. They had built this thing, so basically what I got to do was hop on the train and ride along with the group that had already created something tremendous,” he said. “The difference I think now is now we’ve struggled trying to figure out how you’re going to get back there, having to go through the struggles, know that you have to be really good, know that scouting in particular is really the foundation of an organization like the Royals. If you’re not successful there, getting back to the mountaintop is an impossibility. So there’s an accountability as one of the Royals scouts for sure.”
Farrell, who resides in Indianapolis, is in charge of scouting the best college and high school players in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and western Pennsylvania.
He also is a pitching coach out of Westfield and helps coach the Indiana Mustangs 16U and 17U teams. One of his players this year was incoming Logansport senior Mike Meadows, who will be the Berries’ ace next spring.
“He’s going to go play in college somewhere,” Farrell said of Meadows. “But I will tell you this, and it’s probably part of the history of Logansport in general, but you couldn’t find a better family and kid and tireless worker and he has toughness and he embodies a lot of what Logansport baseball is. He’s one of my favorite kids and I’ve been doing that for a long time as well and he’s absolutely one of my favorite kids that I’ve come across. And Mom and Dad, they’re ridiculous, they’re such good people. He struggled a little bit this year, they never fussed, they just expected their son to go out and work and earn what he earned.”