WORCESTER — Josh Ockimey was a tremendous community ambassador for the WooSox. Even without a contract this offseason, he still attended numerous charity functions in Central Mass for the team. As the winter progressed, along with Major League Baseball’s lockout, very few minor league free agents were signing, including Ockimey.
Then one day, his agent informed him that the Philadelphia Phillies were interested, and it didn’t take long for Ockimey to sign with his hometown team.
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“It’s a new start,” Ockimey said. “It’s like restart mode. I’m ready for this year coming up with a new mindset.”
The 26-year-old slugging first baseman grew up 10 minutes from Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, and he was a huge Phillies fan. Even now when he’s back home, he’ll drive by the ballpark, and it serves as a source of motivation for him, especially now.
“I look at the stadium and say, ‘I want to play there one day.’ As a kid going to the games, hearing the fans, I want to know what that feels like as a player on that field,” he said. “Growing up here it’s definitely a goal of mine I want to achieve, and it will make that (debut) moment that much better.”
The Red Sox selected Ockimey in the fifth round of the 2014 draft. During his seven pro seasons in the Red Sox organization, Ockimey played 677 games. The 6-foot-1, 231-pounder has hit 96 home runs and provided 357 RBIs with a .237 average in that span. He spent the previous three seasons at Triple A, but didn’t achieve his ultimate career goal with the Red Sox. He’s hoping to finally realize it with the Phillies.
“I’m so grateful they gave me a chance and gave me the opportunity to start my journey,” he said. “I’m extremely grateful. I wouldn’t be the baseball player I am today without them. They helped develop me and got me a lot better at the things I needed to. I cant’ put it into words how thankful I am to the Red Sox for helping me achieve my goals.”
Not only was Ockimey a fan favorite at every level he played with the organization, he’s one of the most genuine professionals both on and off the field. In fact, he became close friends with many of the season ticket-holders who sat behind the WooSox dugout during the team’s inaugural season in 2021.
“There’s something about Worcester and its community,” Ockimey said. “It meant a lot to play there for the fans. It felt amazing, and I’m definitely going to miss it. The fans in Worcester were family to me.”
Ockimey moved to Florida for the offseason in order to maximize his daily workout routine. He believes it will better prepare him for the upcoming season.
Depending on MLB’s lockout situation, it’s possible Ockimey will start the season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley and play against the WooSox when the team’s play April 12 at Polar Park. Maybe Ockimey will thrill the Worcester fans with another one of his Canal District Dingahs.
“Being part of the Red Sox organization definitely made me a better person,” he said. “They helped me become, not only a professional on the field, but off the field, too. I can’t thank the Red Sox enough.”
—Contact Joe McDonald at JMcDonald2@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @JoeyMacHockey.
This article originally appeared on Telegram & Gazette: WooSox favorite Josh Ockimey has chance to go home, with Philadelphia Phillies organization