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Draft Worth Celebrating for Salkeld Family

June 07, 1989|VINCE KOWALICK | Times Staff Writer

'Twas the night before the baseball amateur draft and all through the house, everyone was stirring--except Roger Salkeld.

"He was the first one to go to bed last night and the last one to get up this morning," Elaine Salkeld said of her son Monday morning.

This was the day for which the Salkeld family had waited. Bill Salkeld, whose father, William, played eight years in the big leagues with the Pirates, White Sox and Boston Braves, admittedly had longed to see the family name back in pro baseball.

Roger Salkeld, who was born four years after his grandfather died, was only a phone call away from making his father's dream come true.

Throughout the season, Salkeld, Saugus High's 6-foot-5 senior right-hander with the major league fastball, had been projected to be an early draft choice.

Yet, on the biggest day of his life, he was anything but an early riser.

"I sleep fine," Salkeld said, smiling. "You've heard about kids who can't sleep before Christmas? Not me."

Salkeld, however, was up and about in time to answer the telephone at 10:31 a.m. To the surprise of almost no one, Salkeld had been selected by the Seattle Mariners as the No. 3 pick in the nation.

"He just said, 'Congratulations' and 'You have been selected,' " Salkeld said. "I don't even remember his name. After that, he wanted to talk to my dad. That was about it."

The phone call kicked off a day-long, open-door celebration at the Salkeld house. Teammates, coaches, family and friends gathered amid a carnival-like atmosphere with banners and barbecued hot dogs, streamers and helium-filled balloons.

Salkeld, who has a collection of every major league hat, donned Mariner headgear and mingled among guests between fielding phone calls from well-wishers and reporters. Newspaper photographers--anyone with a camera, really--wanted a shot of the most famous pitcher in Saugus High history.

Saugus Coach Doug Worley announced that a ceremony would be held to retire Salkeld's No. 15 jersey. Worley, a Seattle native and Mariner fan, was delighted by the news and said that the Centurions, who are scheduled to receive new uniforms next season, might be outfitted to resemble the Mariners.

"He was dancing around here with different hats on," Worley said. "I said, 'Get that hat off.' I'm happy that he was drafted high."

A beaming Bill Salkeld, whose father blasted a home run off Cleveland Indian Hall of Famer Bob Feller in the 1948 World Series, offered an extended hand to everyone who walked through his front door.

"My dream was to bring back my father's name," he said. "It's wonderful. It's a West Coast team. We couldn't have asked for anything better."

Salkeld, who three years ago was a baby-faced freshman summoned to join the varsity, is now on the threshold of becoming a bonus baby.

Contract negotiations are scheduled to begin next week, according to Dave Aust, director of public relations for the Mariners.

Aust declined comment regarding a signing bonus. Bill Salkeld, who will serve as his son's agent, also declined comment, saying only that he would request "a fair offer for a first-round pick."

Last season, Steve Avery, a high school pitcher from Michigan now with the Atlanta Braves' at the Class-A level, was the third player selected. He received a signing bonus reported to be $211,000.

No decision has been made regarding where Salkeld will be assigned, Aust said.

"We want to get him signed," Aust said. "Obviously, when you're picked third, you're one of the best arms in the country."

STATWATCH Roger Salkeld's career pitching statistics at Saugus High.

CATEGORY: TOTAL Record: 30-7 Strikeouts: 404 Complete Games: 30 Innings pitched: 266 1/3 Shutouts: 12 Saves: 11 No-hitters: 1 One-hitters: 7 Earned-run average: 1.31

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