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Former Cardinal Reyes fighting wildfires in LA

After retiring in 2012, pitcher began lifelong goal of second career
MLB.com @LangoschMLB

ST. LOUIS -- Former Cardinals pitcher Anthony Reyes, best remembered for outdueling Justin Verlander in the 2006 World Series, is now engaged in a much more serious battle.

Reyes, a member of the Los Angeles County Fire Department, is among the hundreds of firefighters who are trying to control a series of wildfires engulfing the metro area. Reyes was on duty Wednesday night into Thursday, when winds were gusting over 70 mph.

ST. LOUIS -- Former Cardinals pitcher Anthony Reyes, best remembered for outdueling Justin Verlander in the 2006 World Series, is now engaged in a much more serious battle.

Reyes, a member of the Los Angeles County Fire Department, is among the hundreds of firefighters who are trying to control a series of wildfires engulfing the metro area. Reyes was on duty Wednesday night into Thursday, when winds were gusting over 70 mph.

Reyes graduated from the fire academy in March, at which time he joined the LA County Fire Department. It marked the completion of a lifelong goal for the former pitcher, who grew up in a family of firefighters.

"I've always wanted to do it," Reyes told Cardinals Insider in 2016. "I loved playing sports. I loved the fire department. My dad was a firefighter. My grandfather was a firefighter. I always had it in my blood, and I always heard the stories. For me, it felt like a sports team. I thought it was the perfect job."

Tweet from @CardsMagazine: 2006 WS hero Anthony Reyes is officially an LA County firefighter! Here he is with his fam at weekend grad ceremony. #congrats #STLCards pic.twitter.com/IS9dT92QET

After retiring from baseball in 2012, Reyes resumed his college studies at the University of Southern California. After graduating, he became a certified emergency medical technician. He was hired by an ambulance company to work for the Orange County Fire Department before eventually being accepted into the fire academy.

The second career followed a successful first one as a big league pitcher. A 15th-round Draft pick by the Cardinals in 2003, Reyes made his Major League debut two years later. He shuffled back and forth between Triple-A and the Majors for the next four seasons, but he is still remembered around St. Louis for his World Series heroics.

Tapped to start Game 1 against the Tigers just two days after the Cardinals advanced past the Mets in the National League Championship Series, Reyes outpitched a rookie Verlander to lift St. Louis to a win at Comerica Park. Reyes finished eight innings -- something he'd do just one other time in his career -- while limiting Detroit to two runs on four hits. During one stretch, Reyes retired 17 batters in a row.

The Cardinals went on to win the World Series, four games to one.

Video: Catching up with 2006 Cardinals pitcher Anthony Reyes

Reyes never pitched in the postseason again, and he made his final Major League appearance with the Indians in 2009. The right-hander finished his career with a 13-26 record and a 5.12 ERA.

Reyes' next move was an easy one.

"When I had the opportunity to play baseball and get school paid for and another opportunity as a professional, I took a chance, because you can only play professional baseball for so long," Reyes said in that Cardinals Insider interview. "As a firefighter, you can get into it a little later in life. I thought it was a great opportunity to do two things that I love."

As of Thursday morning, firefighters continued to work to contain the multiple fires spreading around Southern California. Dry conditions and gusting winds continued to complicate those efforts.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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