Must Click Link: The Slade Heathcott Story

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The RAB Radio Show: May 13, 2011

When the Yankees drafted Slade Heathcott in the first round of the 2009 draft, everyone knew the kid had a troubled past, but we didn’t really know what happened. The most popular rumor was that his parents were in jail for drug-related issues. Well, thanks to Gene Sapakoff of The Post & Courier, now we know what happened, and it’s far worse than I think anyone could have imagined. If you only read one thing on this site all day, this is it. Absolute must read.

Mailbag: D-Rob, Jeter, Oppenheimer, RoY, More
The RAB Radio Show: May 13, 2011
  • bakekrukow412

    My god, I had no idea about all that. Listen to Axisa, it’s a must read.

  • jon

    Wow good read

  • pat

    Certainly explains the character issues we all thought were overblown. Lets hope if he ever makes it to the big league club he can handle the spotlight.

    • Ted Nelson

      Seems like they were overblown.

  • Pinstripes in Cali

    Great story. Terrible author. Must’ve graduated from the Hollywood Upstairs Journalism College.

    • Jeremy

      Agreed, I would love to read a coherent version of that story. Still worth reading.

      • I am not the droids you’re looking for…

        Totally agree with both of you. For content this story is an A. For form it nets no more than a C.

        • RL

          Thanks for the analysis, teach. :-) Seems we all agree with your grading (or maybe your being a little to easy on the author).

      • Drew

        The article didn’t flow well at all, but a crazy story. Makes me a little worried, but as long as he produces on the baseball field, his behavior and past will be overlooked. I’m not sure I’m okay with that though.

    • Will

      Seriously. Did the writer really start the story with the kid pointing a shotgun at his father… and never gave it any context in the entire article? What the hell kind of writing is that?

      • Ted Nelson

        Perhaps the family was unwilling to talk about it, or it’s an altogether uninteresting story that the author purposely excluded to make the shotgun incident seem more exciting than it was.

        • YanksFan77

          Why doesn’t someone ask the writer himself? He’s left his contact info at the bottom of the article. I’d imagine his area code is the same as the newsletter itself (843).

          I would, but I’m just not that interested.

      • Midland TX

        The context is that his high school years were boozy, violent, and unstable. How much more context do you need?

        It’s been a literary convention since Homer to start “in media res,” in the middle of things, to grab the audience. We start off hearing about his nadir, and by the end we’re hopeful for his future and impressed with the path he has walked.

        C’mon, how challenging can the story be? It’s written for South Carolinians. ;-)

    • CountZero

      I don’t even know that it’s that great a story. But the writing is undoubtedly awful. It’s amazing this guy even has a job as a journalist.

    • Pasqua

      Thank you for saying it first.

  • UncleArgyle

    Inresting read. Anyone else concerned that the New York Yankees organization was duped by a 18 year old kid about how he got that scar on his arm? I’m not sure whats worse, that he was able to look them in the eye and flat out lie, or that the yankees bought it and gave him over 2 mil. Anyway, the lesson here, if you run into Slade Heathcott, for the love of god, don’t offer to buy him a drink. Hope the kid keeps his shit together, i’m pulling for him.

    • Chris

      Just because they drafted him and gave him $2.2M doesn’t necessarily mean they bought his story.

      • pat

        Well, he did say that they bought it.

        • NJ_Andy

          It would be in their interest for him to think so.

          • pat

            How so? If they thought he was lying why wouldn’t they call bullshit and demand the truth?

            • dr mrs the yankee

              What exactly would they have gained from saying they didn’t believe him? They wanted to sign him and if they didn’t they weren’t getting a comp pick again.

    • Will

      Yeah, usually I scoff and roll my eyes at the “character issues” sports teams throw up to devalue potential prospects. But with a story like that, man, it’s pretty concerning. I mean, it’s great that he seems to have conquered his demons right now, but he was still pretty bad off when they gave him all that money.

      • Ted Nelson

        That he was a high school kid who got black-out drunk is a big character conern? Seems pretty normal.
        That his parents had problems made him bad off? Seems pretty out of his control.

        I read the article, and it doesn’t particularly make me worried about his character. If anything, the kid seems to have a very strong character. How many people do you know who are put in a position to live out of their car in high school, and still have their shit together enough to get drafted in the first round of the MLB draft? That you’re living out of your car and aren’t passing the AP classes you’re taking isn’t exactly shocking.

        Alcoholism is a tough disease/health issue, but I know just as many rich people who are alcoholics as poor people. That’s the only real concern that seems to emerge out of the article. That he had a gun to his father is pretty messed up, but he didn’t shoot. I had plenty of fights with my dad in high school.

        • I am not the droids you’re looking for…

          When rich people are alcoholics they’re entertaining. When poor people are, they’re trashy.

    • Tampa Yankee

      I assume after they found out about his drinking that the truth behind the scar came out too.

    • bonestock94

      It’s not like the fake reason of jumping a barbed wire fence quells character concerns. I bet the Yankees were well aware of all the risks involved and still decided to take a risk.

    • Ted Nelson

      I’m not at all concerned on the Yankees end, if they did in fact buy it. Unless there was a police report, how on earth are they going to find out that information?
      Whatever information they did or did not have, they knew there were some concerns. They felt comfortable taking the risk after looking into the kid and comparing him to every other prospect on the board. So far I don’t see how anyone can complain about the results.

      Not too concerned about Slade either. I don’t come out and tell many people, least of all potential employers, about shady incidents in my past. That he lied to get a $2.2 mill check means he’s not a saint, but that’s something a whole lot of high school seniors would do in a heartbeat. Not all of those are “bad people.” Some are probably actually huge acheivers… look at the guys implicated in the the steroid issues for example… a lot of the most talented, most competitive guys in the game. No one is wondering whether Clemens’ or Bonds’ ability to lie in open court impacted their ability to be HOF caliber baseball players.

  • mbonzo

    Wow. Wonder if this had anything to do with them going after Culver in 2010. Perhaps going after players with troubled family pasts is their forte.

    • Doug

      Broken homes are the new market inneficiency?

      • Ted Nelson

        Seems pretty plausible… if a player is undervalued because of unfounded concerns that are largely not something they controlled, that’s a good opportunity. Didn’t seem like too many people were as high on Cito’s baseball ability as the Yankees either, though. I mean obviously he was a top HS player, but the Yankees seemed especially high on his ability.

      • fire levine

        Where is my bonus?

    • pat

      Except Cito has been nothing but an upstanding citizen throughout his whole ordeal. Slade has his own personal demons. Cito has kept his nose clean despite his family situation.

      • Ted Nelson

        I’ll first say that I don’t know the details of Cito’s story too much beyond his father burning down their house. And 100% of what I now know about the Slade story is from that article.

        However, the situations seem wholly unrelated to me. Cito was not, as far as I know, homeless. I haven’t heard anything about substance abuse from his parents, just that his father is an idiot who burned down their house. That’s traumatic, but I haven’t heard anything about the kid living out of his car. Besides for being a fairly functional alcoholic and struggling with what was apparently not a light course-load, I also haven’t heard anything about Slade not being an upstanding citizen. The article actually repeatedly talks about his high character. About how teachers invited him into their lives. Teachers aren’t usually going to do that with total assholes.

        The only relationship I see is that both came from broken homes. Comparing Cito’s ability to handle his father snapping and going to jail while still living with his both to Slade’s ability to handle a home with two apparent drug users and then being homeless in high school… that seems pretty ridiculous to me. Not to mention the possible genetic factors that might have predisposed Slade to substance abuse.

  • bexarama

    Oh, wow. That’s just awful, all of it. I really hope he keeps it together.

  • Clay Bellinger

    Awesome read..hard not to pull for this kid.

  • Virginia Yank

    Very interesting story. I agree with all of the above that say it was poorly written. I had assumed it was domestic violence involved in the pointing of the shotgun, but the author gives no context on how it came to be. At any rate, it seems that his family life was even more a mess than the author manages to describe. He’s a talented kid and hopefully he keeps himself on the straight and narrow.

  • Plank

    The religious stuff is a little concerning, but hopefully he realizes HE is the reason he’s doing well and staying sober now.

    • http://deleted Total Dominication

      Eh. there are a lot of overly religious ballplayers.

      • Mike Axisa

        Starting with Mariano Rivera.

      • Plank

        In terms of baseball, that’s fine. But if he thinks he got sober because of anything else other than him making the personal decision to do it, I fear he won’t stay sober for long.

        • Ticorules

          I believe one of the 12 steps of AA is that there is a greater power that can guide your life. So all of you atheists better not become alcoholics, cause there’s no hope for you. ;-)

          But on a serious note, I wouldn’t be overly concerned with him being religious. Most people are.

          Hopefully he keeps moving in the right direction.

        • Captain Bawls

          Glad I wasn’t the only one concerned by this.

          • Smallz

            I’d have to agree with Plank here. Heathcott got sober on his own which is good for him but if he reaches out to god with the tempetation to drink and theres no answer, hes gunna fall underneath the wagon.

        • Pasqua

          See: Josh Hamilton. Very troubled. Very religious. Relapsed. (Thankfully, he seems to have re-righted the ship, but let it be a warning to others, like Heathcott.)

    • Doug

      The Yankees teams in the late 90s had a pretty large Bible study group led (I think) by Andy Pettitte.

      A good number of baseball players find God in the minor leagues. It’s a hard life.

      • Plank

        I was referring to the religious stuff being concerning in relation to his sobriety, not baseball.

      • I am not the droids you’re looking for…

        Are you telling me Jesus Christ couldn’t hit a curveball?

        • forensic

          Neither could Jobu…

    • Ted Nelson

      It’s an interesting point. I know very little about addiction and rehab, but it seems like a lot of people get religious in recovery from substance abuse. I don’t know if those people are more or less or equally likely to relapse.

      • Andy in NYC

        The “higher power” you are asked to find in 12-step programs does not have to be a conventional religion. Someone I know was told “it can be your cat, for all we care”.
        The point is to accept that you have no control over your disease and to find something to believe in. If you don’t find your higher power, you will likely not make it through the program.

        -Not a 12-stepper, nor do I play one on t.v., but some of my friends from my hell-raising days are

        • Midland TX

          Whatever gets him through the day, I say.

          Nobody tell him, however, that the 12-month success rate for AA participants is worse than Jorge Posada’s batting average.

  • Plank

    He’s a real life version of Tim Riggins.

  • Big Apple

    that was painful to read…why can’t reporters just get to the point and write the story. that guy is all over the place…like he wrote it in story boards and on his way to the editor he tripped and they all got mixed up and he could’t get them in order before the printing deadline.

  • steve s

    What doesn’t come across in the story is how bright and articulate the kid really is. Kim Jones did a more than cursory interview with Slade a week or so ago on Yes and my impression of him based on that interview (beyond him being bright and articulate) was that he came off as mature beyond his years as well as media savvy.

  • JFH

    thanks for linking this story. loved it.

  • Smallz

    Oh and the actual writing of the story sucked. Very hard to follow but I get it

  • miketotheg

    Thanks for posting this.

    I’m totally rooting for this kid. I can’t wait to see him in the bizzonks.

  • Aaron S.

    Great article, thanks Mike. Didn’t Sam Marsonek make a few starts for the Yankees during his brief career?

    • Mike Axisa

      He made one relief appearance back in the day. He was one of those Colter Bean/Buddy Carlyle types, the older Triple-A guy.

  • NC Saint

    Very intense.

    I would be proud to have a starting CF on the Yankees who wasn’t afraid to hit on a girl eating with her mom at the Cheesecake Factory. That’s some A+ game right there.