Randy Young was teaching a Grade 7 math class at Hart Highlands Elementary in Prince George Wednesday morning when his phone rang.
It was his 27-year-old son Jared calling on FaceTime to break the news he had a flight to New York to catch in an hour after he’d been called up to the Chicago Cubs to possibly make his major league debut later in the day against the division-leading Mets.
Just one stipulation, Jared explained to his dad, he could not tell a soul until it he was placed on the Cubs’ active roster. Randy Young’s students, of course, knew all about Jared and how close he was to becoming the first Prince George-born-and-raised ball player ever to get that call to the play in the Show and they wanted to know. But Randy couldn’t let the cat out of the bag until the Cubs announced it Wednesday afternoon.
While Randy’s older son Tanner looked into the cost of hotel rooms and flights for the family to Chicago, where the Cubs will start a three-game series at Wrigley Field against the Colorado Rockies, Randy went back to teaching, sitting on one of the biggest secrets of his life.
“Normally I don’t take calls during the day when I’m working and the kids were quiet and they didn’t know because I stepped to the side of the room, and they all wanted to wave and say hi and Jared said, ‘Don’t tell anybody, Dad.’” said Randy Young.
“He said, it’s not official, I don’t want you telling anybody, I just wanted to let you know. They all said hi and he hung up. I told Jeni (Lee), my wife, she works with me, and I didn’t tell anybody else. It was the hardest thing in the world to not tell anybody because that’s been the talk of the town since 2017 (the year the Cubs drafted Jared).”
The Cubs later announced on Twitter they’ve placed outfielder Rafael Ortega on the 60-day injured list due to a ring finger fracture and called in Young to replace him. Randy got a text from Jared later in the afternoon to say he was in the lineup in New York, where the Cubs were hoping to complete a three-game sweep of the National League East division leaders.
“He said he might get in to pinch-hit, but who knows,” said Randy.
Currently batting .228, in 108 games this season with Iowa, the Cubs triple-A affiliate, Young has 90 hits and 57 RBI, with 16 home runs and 21 doubles.
The former Prince George Knight has proven his versatility as a fielder, playing three infield positions for Iowa, as well as covering right and left field.
Lyle Young, Jared’s grandfather, texted Randy Wednesday morning to tell him Jared wasn’t in the lineup for the Iowa Cubs for their home game in Des Moines against the Memphis Redbirds. That’s become a routine for the 88-year-old Lyle, who watches Jared’s games religiously online. Randy didn’t respond to the text. He wanted to break the news personally in a phone call to his 88-year-old father, who suffered a stroke three weeks ago and is still recovering.
“I said, ‘Dad, there’s a reason he’s not in the lineup today, because he got called up to the big-league Cubs, and of course he was just over the moon,” Randy said. “I said, ‘It’s OK Dad, you don’t have to worry about him not being in the I-Cubs lineup tonight because he’s going to be in New York tonight and he will be in a Cubs uniform playing against the New York Mets tonight.”
Young, the younger son of Dana and Randy Young, was drafted by the Cubs in 2017, selected in the 15th round while attending Old Dominion University. He played for two other U.S. college teams before getting into the NCAA’s Division 1, after leaving Prince George in his Grade 10 year to play baseball in Kelowna.
There are just 16 Canadians playing in the majors this year and the odds of a Prince George kid making it that far are nothing short of astronomical.
“We’ve never had a sniff, this is ridiculous,” said Randy, who coached Jared as a youngster.
“Any Canadian making it to the MLB is huge. There’s more coming, of late, but if you come from a northern community like ours, that gets two or three months of baseball a year, play in three different colleges in the States, it’s huge. It’s inspired a lot of ball players in Prince George, obviously.
“He’s a special case, there’s not too many like him in any city, let alone Prince George. I’ve always said that, when he was little, this guy is really good, and he was.”
In May, Jared hit .298 for Iowa and by the end of June he was leading the I-Cubs with 12 home runs and 40 RBI. After enduring a hitting slump that dropped him below the .200 mark in July and August, he’s been turning it on lately, hitting .250 in September.
“He was hot out of the gate, all those home runs, all those RBIs, they were projecting him to get the callup right away, he was their best player, and then he had a slump,” said Randy Young. “But he didn’t quit, he took extra batting practice, he called his director of hitting, he talked to psychologists.
“He’s struggled, there’s ups and downs and you’ve got to be mentally strong. Talent will only get you so far, it’s the grit and determination and the belief that you’re going to make it. He’s been putting up pretty good numbers of late. He stuck it out and has been through some tough times and he’s still come out on top. It’s a big moment and I’m so proud of him.
“He got the callup and I’m excited and what a place to start. He’s in New York, for Pete’s sake.”