Chalkboard Champion Pro Baseball Pitcher Steven Delabar: The Remarkable Substitute Teacher and Coach

delabarpic_large_medium[1][1]When we think about chalkboard champions, let’s not forget our nation’s cadre of amazing substitute teachers. Here’s an uplifting story of one such sub. His name is Steven Delabar, and he just happens to be a major league relief pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Steven, a native of Kentucky, attended Central Hardin High School and Volunteer State Community College. He was drafted by the Anaheim Angels in 2002, and was signed by the San Diego Padres in 2003, making his professional debut in 2004. He spent several years in the minor leagues.

Unfortunately, before he could work his way into big league play, Steven suffered a severe elbow injury in 2009 that appeared to end his career. Undaunted, he rolled up his shirtsleeves and started working on his teaching credential. He became a substitute teacher in the same school district where his wife was an educator, and accepted a position as an assistant baseball coach at John Hardin High School in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. While there, Steven helped implement a recently-developed velocity-improvement program for his student athletes. To test the program’s efficiency, he completed the exercises himself, and before long, Steven discovered that he could pitch as well or better than before his injury. When a scout from the Seattle Mariners watched the twenty-eight-year-old coach pitch in 2011, Steven found himself back in professional baseball as a minor league player. His potential was quickly realized, though, and that same season saw his major league debut. The next year, Steven became a Toronto Blue Jay. Steven Delabar is one of the few major league baseball players who have struck out four opponents in a single inning, and he also went to the 2013 All-Star game, striking out Buster Posey in only five pitches, an impressive feat.

Hopefully, Steven Delabar will enjoy a long and successful career as a professional baseball player, but it would not be a surprise if some day he takes his considerable talents and dedication to students back to the classroom as a full-fledged teacher and coach!