Rutschman shares special bond with sister

March 17th, 2021
Photo courtesy of the Rutschman family

How does a top MLB prospect stay sane in quarantine? Holed up in his parents’ Oregon house, did what he could, participating in the Orioles’ virtual mental health seminars and sneaking away to a local field with his father, Randy, to hit during last year’s shutdown. But like the rest of us, Rutschman spent most of that time at or near home. That meant bonding with the people there, the people who, in many ways, have always been there. For Rutschman, that meant his younger sister, Josie.

"We spend as much time together as we can at home,” Adley said in a phone interview. “We definitely play off of each other, and have very similar tastes in comedy. We laugh at a lot of the same stuff, and when we’re together at family functions, it’s a lot of energy and a lot to handle. We get a little rowdy when we’re together.”

Two years his junior, Josie grew up trailing Adley on the travel baseball circuit, learning enough about the game and her brother’s ability to even critique his swing now and again. But her true passion, she learned in high school, lay in helping others. Now as her brother gets a long look in his second big league camp with the Orioles, Josie is doing her part to help bring the pandemic to a close, administering COVID-19 vaccines at a primary care clinic in McMinnville, Ore.

Thousands of miles apart now on completely opposite ends of the country, both Rutschmans are making an impact, on the field and off.

“She’s always been a very good athlete, but more passionate about school and pursuing her career,” Adley said. “It’s a good dynamic we have and she’s very, very smart in her respective area, very accomplished. I’m super proud of her for that.”

Photo courtesy of the Rutschman family

The pandemic affected everyone in different ways. For Adley, it eliminated what should’ve been his first full season of pro ball, after the Orioles drafted him No. 1 overall in 2019. Josie watched her internship with a local summer baseball team disappear, but used the opportunity to complete nursing assistant training instead.

By July, Adley was off to the O’s alternate training site in Bowie, Md. Josie began juggling work as a medical assistant with studies at Linfield University, where she majors in biochemistry. It felt like a natural step after Josie earned her phlebotomy certification in January, shortly after returning from a month volunteering at a children’s hospital in Tanzania.

“Health is something that's so worrisome for people and it feels really out of their control, and I like the idea of being able to give people that relief, to help people in that way, because it is such a scary thing sometimes,” Josie said. “ I love my job, being able to provide some relief for people. Right now, we're vaccinating the 65-and-up group. These people are really susceptible. And it's really scary for them to get something like COVID. To be able to see how excited they already get their shot, I feel like I'm doing something good here, you know?”

The Orioles have embarked on an active vaccine promotion campaign, and other MLB teams have turned their stadiums into mass vaccination sites in recent weeks with an eye toward halting the pandemic in its tracks. Though they’re thrilled to have baseball back, the Rutschmans still cherish their memories from lockdown, which they believe drew them closer. Josie taught Adley how to cook. He taught her how to golf. They binge watched The Boys on Amazon Prime, Scandal on Hulu, and co-starred in a series of TikTok videos about life in the Rutschman house. In one, Josie cuts Adley’s hair. In another, Adley buys his mother, Carol, a car.

“We do so much together,” Josie said. “My draft section on TikTok is insane right now. I wish he would let me post some of those videos because they’re so funny. We’ll spend hours on a video and then he’ll say don’t post it. I’m like: ‘Are you serious?’”

More time for creative collaboration is on the horizon. If not for the pandemic, Adley would’ve began 2020 at Double-A and likely been knocking on the Major League door right now. As it happened, he’ll begin 2021 at Double-A, probably pushing his debut to 2022. That’s also the year Josie is eyeing for physician’s assistant graduate programs. Two schools she’s planning to apply to? The University of Maryland and Towson University -- both a stone’s throw from Baltimore.

“Wouldn't it be great,” Carol asked, “if she could go to school in Baltimore and watch the Orioles?"