Ask anyone on the 2012 Neptune Beach Pearl who the player with the biggest personality is, and they’d likely tell you that pitcher/catcher Jordan Louie was your guy. The Manteca, Calif. native is easily noticeable; if the mohawk and tattoos aren’t a giveaway, just listen for that one voice that’s louder than the rest – that’s Louie. And he definitely plays baseball his own way.
There are plenty of rules – more than just what’s happening on the field. There’s “chew etiquette” – “you give one, you take one; you take one, you give one;” although Louie makes it clear that he doesn’t promote it, “on days like these [the June 15th doubleheader against the San Francisco Seagulls], you need a couple lips,” Louie said. A line drive hit into the dugout is an “ugly finder” and the worst thing that can happen is “dry humping;” “when the coach tells you to go and warm up but then you don’t go in – that hurts,” Louie said. When it comes to celebrating with a teammate, Louie said what everyone else on the team was thinking: “Sports, baseball in general, is the one time a man can get away with slapping another man’s ass and it’s acceptable in society’s ass. It’s standard. I don’t remember the last time I congratulated a guy without slapping his ass.” As he was sharing these baseball codes, others in dugout seemed to agree with what he was saying, chiming in with their own thoughts. Whether or not he knows it, Louie is a leader on the team, be it because of his history with the Pearl, his years of baseball experience or his infectious attitude that is impossible to ignore.
Being in the dugout in summer ball is all about cracking jokes and having fun, with winning being an added bonus. Louie’s favorite target is right-handed pitcher Chris Garrison, “because he can take it, but isn’t fast enough to get me back,” Louie said. Having a down-to-earth team that can mess around with each other is exactly what he believes can make or break a season. So far, the Pearl’s matching up to his expectations. From quoting tv shows and movies – Workaholics and Suits are two current favorites – to playing games, “you find ways to stay entertained,” Louie said. That’s something that will be especially important as the team hits the road for a few weeks, particularly in games against Marysville, Humboldt and Santa Barbara which Louie believes will be the true test to the team’s ability.
Louie’s game is largely mental, and as he’s continued on in his baseball career, he’s worked hard to find a way to stay focused no matter what. He recognizes how challenging the sport is and tries to avoid getting cocky. “Once you think you’ve got it licked, the game will jump up and get you in the ass,” Louie said. “[It’s] Tough to stay even keel.” That doesn’t mean, however, that he can’t play his own game, and after watching him on the field and in the dugout, it’s clear that he does. His advice? Control the controllables. “It’s up to you whether you’re going to let it affect you or just go out and play your game,” Louie said. “If you just work on it, it’s unbelievable how much the head will make you a better player.” In his free time, Louie plays golf, as often as once a day, just to keep his competitive spirit up. With baseball being almost routine at this point, Louie uses golf to keep himself focused and to challenge himself so he can bring that drive back to his regular sport.
His success stems from more than just staying focused; for Louie, it’s a combination of little things that keep his drive going when he’s on the field. The most important thing he does is dedicate each game to someone to remind him that he’s playing for something that’s bigger than him. “I would always write on my tape “Team 100%, no more no less” my grandpa and my aunt’s initials and my number,” Louie said. When he’s on the mound, he has even more rules. “One release is focal points,” Louie said. “I’m a firm believer. When I pitch, I do so many weird things. Common superstition – never step on the line. When I pitch I stare at the mound. Do a little self-talk, get off the mound when I get shaky.” Louie’s role for the Pearl this season on the mound has been as a closer, a position that he enjoys. “I come in at the end of the game, that’s my role,” Louie said. One of his mottos is “throw strikes, good things happen. You can’t defend a walk.” Knowing that he only has to face a limited number of batters, Louie can focus on getting those strikes and pounding the zone, in order to help his teammates out on defense.
As a catcher, Louie faces the ball from the plate as well and has a different routine there. “After every pitch, hitting I’ll step out of the box and my focal point is the top of the left field pole. It’s a routine, that’s how I focus. Breathing is another huge thing. I get back and ready to roll,” Louie said. No matter where he ends up taking the field, Louie has some sort of system to follow in order to keep him focused, but he most of all relies on his confidence. Above all, as a batter, Louie believes that it’s him against the nine guys on the field – and he’s not wrong. While baseball is a team sport, it’s important for him to have faith in himself when he’s alone in the batter’s box and when he’s back in the dugout, to inspire that faith in others. His veteran status has given him the experience to know that everyone has a position to play. “Certain guys have certain roles,” Louie said. “By this point, the older guys understand their role and that’s a huge thing. Everyone has to play their part. It all comes down to staying healthy. It’s huge to know your role. If you’re a guy who comes in to pinch-run in the 6th and you steal the base, that could be the base that makes the difference. Starting pitchers keep the team in the game, go innings and help the bullpen. I don’t want to say the game relies on offense instead of pitching but ultimately the game goes back to pitching. Free 90’s, passed balls, balks, walks – the team that makes the least mistakes is the one that wins – often works out that way. It always starts with pitching.” His ability to understand the game from two angles – both as a pitcher and as a catcher – has given Louie a greater read on the game to really get just what needs to be done at any spot at any time in the game.
When filling out the player bio sheet, Louie decided to write for his draft history “2013 Giants 10th round.” While that may have been a joke, he’s serious about achieving his dreams. “Making the high school team, that was an achievement, but I wasn’t satisfied,” Louie said. “Playing in college and winning the state championship [with Delta College], wasn’t satisfied. Playing Division 1 baseball [at Oregon State], wasn’t satisfied.” Whether it’s the 10th round or the 40th, the Giants or any other team, Louie won’t stop until he’s drafted and achieves his next goal.
When he does finally leave the field, Louie knows exactly how he wants to be remembered. “Someone once told me that the game was here long before you and it will be here long after you,” Louie said. Look past his jokes and it’s easy to see that Louie’s respect for the game is what keeps he coming back each day. When asked what he would want people to say about him after he left baseball, Louie was ready with an answer; he would want to be known as someone who “[was a] hustler, played hard, never took a pitch off,” Louie said. As he came on in the ninth inning to put away three batters to give the Pearl the win in that first game against the Seagulls, it was obvious that Louie’s brand of baseball gets the job done, and he gets to have fun doing it. So next time you’re watching the Pearl, be sure to look for the guy who’s loud and getting the team excited – and know that his game is all his own.
You can meet Jordan Louie and the rest of the 2012 Neptune Beach Pearl at the 1st annual Meet the Pearl Auction Dinner Fundraiser on July 14th and the Grand View Pavilion. Download the attachment below for more information!