Chris Rowley’s Journey from West Point to the Toronto Blue Jays to Law School

It was a Saturday afternoon, his family was there and he followed the advice of the Jays’ pitching coach, Pete Walker: Look up. In his own debut, Walker hadn’t. So Rowley walked out to the mound, picked up the rosin bag, made sure to look around at the nearly 50,000 people and had his “oh my goodness” moment. Then he breathed, locked in and threw a first-pitch strike to Starling Marte.

It was his only big-league victory. He went 1-2 with a 6.75 E.R.A. over six games — three starts — that season. The Jays called him back for two relief appearances in 2018, but he went 0-1 with a 40.50 E.R.A. He doesn’t think the bullpen suited him well but, as he said, “I understood where I was in the pecking order.” Texas claimed him off waivers late in 2018, then it was on to the San Diego and Minnesota systems.

“He was always very passionate about what the minor leagues were like and that lack of what was available, that lifestyle,” said Tim Mayza, a Toronto reliever who will be a groomsman in Rowley’s wedding this winter. “Yeah, we’re professional athletes, but the minor leagues is a very grindy lifestyle, packing guys into rooms, you’ve got air mattresses and stuff like that. He was always wanting to make conditions better. You could tell he had a passion for wanting the next group to have better conditions than the current guys.”

Marino, who recommended Rowley for the Michael Weiner scholarship, thinks his friend brings “a unique mix of experiences but, more than that, to have the level of success he’s had in different areas is unique, and I think what you see from service to his country to making it to the major leagues to now pursuing a career in the law is a level of commitment that it takes in each of those areas that is really unique and sort of exemplary.”

Rowley has an article he expects to be published in the University of Colorado Law Review in the spring of 2024. The working title: “It’s Past Time: Unionization and Labor Management in Minor League Baseball.”

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