Where Are They Now?: Jon Peters
Jon Peters was 8. He stood a foot taller than his teammates. He donned an adult-size belt that was swallowed by the flab around his midsection. The league-issued jersey did not come close to fitting, so his was specially ordered.
Then one day, when he swung and missed at a pitch, the front snap of his pants broke, leaving Peters as the target of laughter from teammates and parents alike as he trudged back to the dugout.
“I always felt kind of out of place,” Peters said today. “Man, I thought, ‘I am a fatty.’ ”
Peters never felt comfortable in a baseball uniform or, for that matter, in his own skin. Not even when he reeled off a still-standing national high school record 53 consecutive wins, putting tiny Brenham, Texas, on the national map in the late 1980s for being something other than the home of Blue Bell ice cream.
Nor as the first high school baseball player to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated, on May 8, 1989, beneath the headline “SUPERKID.” Nor when professional scouts gathered around the backstop in Chapel Hill, N.C., in the summer of 1987 before his junior year of high school as Peters prepared to show off his 92 mph fastball that had already accounted for a 28-0 record and consecutive Texas state 4A titles.
When he blew out his shoulder during those Junior Olympics tryouts, the scouts put away their radar guns and never again considered the young righthander with the funky delivery—once considered a surefire first-rounder—any kind of prospect.
That was OK with Peters.
“Here I am going through all this success, and I’m thinking, ‘I’m not good enough, and there are other players that are so much better than me,’ ” Peters said. “If anything, the injury in North Carolina was kind of a relief to me because I was afraid of not performing well there.”
The troubles for Peters were only beginning. The following spring, on the eve of shattering the win-streak record, he consumed nearly every tablet in a bottle of Tylenol.
Peters survived his suicide attempt and even pitched Brenham to another state title. But three more surgeries during brief stints at Texas A&M and Blinn (Texas) JC, and Peters was done with baseball. He was 21.
Divorce ended a seven-year marriage, and alcoholism sent him spiraling into thoughts of suicide once again.
He finally found sobriety on Sept. 7, 2010, his 40th birthday. Today, he is involved in parenting his children, Kylie, 15, and Jake, 12. He is a minority partner in Epic Management Resources, an oil and gas project management inspection firm in Houston.
Peters penned his memoir, “When Life Grabs You By The Baseballs,” in 2018.
He also speaks occasionally to youth groups, stressing the importance of remaining confident and having a willingness to express feelings to others. Resist the temptation, he tells them, to try to change the past.
Said Peters, “I want to be a source of hope to people.”