Mullens native, former Miner Zeboskey signs to play pro baseball

·4 min read

Aug. 4—The last time Josh Zeboskey walked off the mound, he wasn't sure if it would be the actual last time.

He was pitching for the West Virginia Miners in July 2021, his third and final season with Beckley's Prospect League entrant. He worked the ninth inning and picked up the save in a 7-6 win over Johnstown.

If it was his last game, what a nice way to go out. But Zeboskey knew something wasn't right.

"I didn't feel it during the time, but I went to do my recovery and my sprints and, man, my arm was just hanging," he said. "I wasn't used to feeling that."

He never got a prognosis, but with just three weeks left in a season that had spiraled out of control for the Miners, Zeboskey was indeed done.

Suddenly, with really no reflection, he was faced with a life that didn't include baseball. His college eligibility was exhausted, so then also were his days in collegiate summer leagues.

The day he knew would one day come was upon him, and he admits he didn't like it.

"Whenever I got hurt, it put a damper on myself personally, like trying to figure out who I was," he said.

"I kind of had an identity crisis. I totaled my vehicle, didn't have a job. Everything seemed like it was going downhill."

He took care of the work part, getting a job at Dick's Sporting Goods last fall. Soon, the baseball void was filled when Matt Price asked him to help coach the Beckley-Stratton varsity and JV teams in the Upper Deck Middle School Baseball League.

Beckley-Stratton won both championships, and being around the young players reignited a fire in Zeboskey that really never quit burning. He didn't know it at the time, but his involvement would lead to what happened Wednesday, the day he got the call that his playing days will indeed continue.

Zeboskey will leave Thursday morning to pitch for the Lake Erie Crushers of the storied Frontier League, which is now a Professional Partner League of Major League Baseball.

"Throwing BP to these kids and stuff, I was, like, man, it makes you miss the game," he said. "I started feeling good. My arm was feeling good, so I decided, 'You're still kind of young, so why not get after it? You worked your whole life to play ball. Don't let this one injury, some mishaps get in the way.'"

So he went to work on getting himself ready to get back in the game. Zeboskey — a Mullens native who won a state championship at Wyoming East in 2012 and played collegiately at Potomac State, Fairmont State and Marshall — took care of the elbow injury with some independent rehab. Being unemployed left him without insurance, thus the lack of a prognosis.

"That was part of the identity crisis," Zeboskey said. "I guess it just wasn't anything serious and I worked my way back. I actually had done some rehab stuff just so I could move on forward with my life and not feel pain, get back to 100 percent and do what I was doing."

With the injury no longer bothering him, Zeboskey started training again, and Tim Epling, his former manager with the Miners and director of the middle school league, allowed Zeboskey to throw a bullpen session at Epling Stadium. After watching "Zebo" pitch, Epling called James Keller, the hitting and catching coach for the Crushers.

Some time went by before Keller called Zeboskey, who sent in video of himself pitching. Keller then invited Zeboskey to attend a Frontier League tryout last week in Mount Vernon, Ohio.

The big call came Wednesday, while Zeboskey was on hole No. 6 at Grandview Country Club.

"I was on the golf course when (Keller) called and he was just like, 'Yeah, we want to sign you, man,'" Zeboskey said. "Tears of joy. I don't remember much after that. It was just, I'm about to live out my dream. ... I'll never forget that hole now."

Going into Wednesday, the Crushers were 32-35 and 12 1/2 games back in the West Division standings with a month left in the season. They placed two of their pitchers on the injured list Wednesday afternoon.

"I want to give a thanks to my high school coach, "Chief" Ron Mayhew, my junior college coach Doug Little (Potomac State), the Miners organization as a whole, my family and friends who have supported me and obviously the people that doubted me," he said. "I look forward to doing it for them."

Email: gfauber@register-herald.com; follow on Twitter @gfauber5