TYLER, TX (KLTV) - An East Texas baseball player will soon be a part of history.
Josh Tomlin is a starting pitcher for the Cleveland Indians and a graduate of Whitehouse High School. The right-hander will take the mound in the first World Series game played at Wrigley Field in more than a 70 years.
An autographed picture on Bobby Stroupe's desk means a lot to the veteran athletic trainer. So does the baseball and jersey bearing Josh Tomlin's name. The Whitehouse native has spent the last 11 offseasons at APEC, a training facility in Tyler, now his baseball family is getting excited for the right-hander's World Series start.
"For Josh we couldn't be more proud of him no matter what happens in the world series to get there is just incredible, APEC owner and trainer Bobby Stroupe said.
Watching Tomlin get there has helped the careers of many young athletes like New York Yankees pitcher and Bullard High School alumnus Nick Rumbelow.
"He's paved a path for us younger guys in East Texas to model after and come out and have success at the highest level," Rumbelow said.
AJ Minter added that Tomlin's dedication to the game inspired him.
"Just being around him you want to be a sponge, you want to soak up as much knowledge as he has and just follow him," Minter said.
Kye Heck and Josh Tomlin go way back. The APEC trainer also from Whitehouse remembers watching a teenage Tomlin make plays in the Wildcats infield. Heck now sees a number 43 Indians jersey hanging on the wall as he walks into work every day.
"Looking up to Josh is always being a great athlete at Whitehouse always knew he had potential and now coming full circle being one of his coaches," Heck said.
At least eight other East Texans have played in a World Series game over the last 50 years. Stroupe said Tomlin will be his first athlete he has helped train appearing in a World Series, which can be motivation to players across East Texas.
"It's been done and it can be done again and if you have a dream you can go after it," Stroupe said.
As for Friday night, Minter said he knows Tomlin will represent his team and his hometown with dignity.
"That atmosphere is going to be awesome to be playing in, I mean this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, I know Josh is going to go out there and give it all he has," Minter said.
Tomlin's Game 3 start will be his first time pitching at Wrigley Field. He will also try for his 50th career victory.