Mt. Prospect native takes the mound in Boomers' home opener
He could guide a fastball over home plate, but was too young to steer a car.
Still, Jack Landwehr remembers the route to the nearby pro ballpark.
"Busse Road to (Illinois Route) 390," said Landwehr, who grew up in Mount Prospect and graduated from Prospect High School in 2012. "Right there in 20 minutes."
Tuesday, Landwehr returns to Boomers Stadium in Schaumburg, where, as a kid, he remembers attending Schaumburg Flyers baseball games. The 24-year-old right-hander will take the mound at the Boomers' home opener against the Washington Wild Things, first pitch at 6:30 p.m. Landwehr says he's leaving close to 25 tickets for friends and family, including his parents, John and Maribeth.
"Everyone's been asking me for the last couple of months when I'm starting," Landwehr said with a laugh. "It's going to be pretty crazy.
"It's just a pretty cool experience going back there and playing for the Boomers now in the same stadium."
After graduating from Illinois State University, Landwehr, who underwent Tommy John surgery in the fall of 2013, went undrafted. He made the Normal CornBelters' spring training roster, but got cut after the first week.
"Billy (Horn), the manager, told me, 'You're on the short list if anyone goes down or someone doesn't perform like we think they're going to perform,'" Landwehr said. "Sure enough, they gave me a call two weeks later. The next thing you know, I'm in the starting rotation."
Landwehr went on to make the all-star team and get 14 starts (3.32 ERA). But after Normal folded operations following the season, choosing to leave the Frontier League to join a college wood bat league, he hooked up with Schaumburg, bringing him back home.
"Him being local is great, but we got Jack because he can pitch," Boomers manager Jamie Bennett said. "He's done a good job in camp. He's a guy that throws strikes, keeps the ball down, can cut it, sink it. Good breaking ball. Good changeup. He's going to keep guys off-balance and should get a lot of groundballs."
Bennett has been Schaumburg's only manager since the team became the Boomers in 2012. His 24-man roster features nine players who were members of the 2018 team along with five others, including Landwehr, who also played in the Frontier League last year. The returning players include 2018 all-stars Jack Parenty, Payton Lobdell and Nick Oddo.
Parenty hit a franchise-record .324 while playing in a team-high 94 games. The New York native will make the move to the outfield after primarily playing second base in his first two years with the Boomers. Oddo (.292 BA, 4 HR, 24 RBI) begins his third season with the club as the primary catcher and is the oldest player on the team having just turned 27. Lobdell went 5-8 with a 4.25 ERA last season.
Among the other newcomers is corner infielder Matt Rose, a 2015 Cubs draft pick who was dealt to the White Sox along with Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease as part of the Jose Quintana trade. Rose played in 115 games for the White Sox's AA Birmingham affiliate last year. He's hit 55 minor-league homers, including 16 last year.
Rose started at third base in the Boomers' first three games of the season, as they went 1-2 against the Gateway Grizzlies.
"He's a guy that we expect to add some juice to that lineup," Bennett said. "He's a good player, no doubt about it, and one of those guys that can change a game with one swing of the bat."
Tuesday night's home opener will feature a Boomers plate disc giveaway for the first 500 fans along with a magnet schedule giveaway, $1 hot dogs and postgame fireworks presented by Wintrust Community Banks.