C. Kelly fills free time by filling his brain

D-backs catcher fulfills promise to parents by earning college degree

March 21st, 2019

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Baseball is an everyday game, but there is still a lot of downtime.

Long bus rides in the Minor Leagues, or flights in the big leagues. Dead time between early work and batting practice, between batting practice and the game.

That makes it easy for a player to dwell on a bad performance or slump.

To combat that, D-backs catcher got himself educated.

After being selected out of high school by the Cardinals in the second round of the 2012 Draft, Kelly promised his parents, Traci and Mike, that he would get his college degree. So in the fall of 2012, he began taking online courses at Oregon State University.

“The good thing is that the college scholarship program that the Cardinals have paid for it, so I utilized that,” Kelly said.

During Oregon State’s fall and winter semesters, Kelly would take a full load of classes. The winter semester bled into Spring Training, making it a challenge, but Kelly kept pushing.

“I kept telling myself, ‘I’m just going to get it done. I’m just going to get it done. Keep going,’” he said.

Knowing that his motivation would be stronger in the beginning, he loaded up with his hardest classes -- math and economics -- early, figuring that he could finish the easier classes later.

In some ways, the challenge of school helped him clear his mind from baseball and, he believes, allowed him to perform better.

“Because sometimes you can get pretty clouded during such a long season,” Kelly said. “It was kind of a nice little break from baseball. If it’s an off-day, it gives you something to do, because some off-days you just sleep all day because you’re tired. But for me, I would know that I had to do my homework. It allowed me to switch mentally.

“When I was in high school, I always thought I played better when I had harder classes because it was a good change. It helped me to refocus, and that’s something that I believe in now. You have to find a hobby. Because if all you’re doing is working all the time, it’s not good. There needs to be a break at some point.”

Kelly completed his degree in economics in the spring of 2018. There was just one problem when it came to picking up his degree -- he was busy playing baseball.

So, in his place he sent Traci and Mike.

“They basically went to graduation for me,” he said. “They picked it up for me, and my mom started breaking down a little bit because it was something she always wanted me to do. That was really cool.”

Now that school is done with, Kelly has found a new passion to keep him from thinking too much about baseball when he’s away from the ballpark.

“Now I read,” he said. “So I’m taking time to read, whatever it might be. I’m on the Harry Potter series right now. Sounds a little weird, I know, but I never read it as a kid. But it’s a good change for me to refocus from baseball. You have to find ways to not dwell on your last game. So, reading, going out and playing golf, finding a hobby, I don’t know -- needlepoint -- whatever it is, everybody has to have something to refocus.”