Their playing days are over, but brothers Tanner and Jared Reklaitis are still involved in baseball.
“We were definitely a baseball family – a sports family – growing up,” said Tanner, a 2013 graduate of Sheboygan South. “Jared and I both had the normal childhood dream of growing up to be a professional baseball player or a professional basketball player. Now getting to continue to work in baseball, for both of us, it’s a huge honor and a privilege we don’t take lightly. I can speak for myself and say it’s awesome to get to continue working in sports and to get to really just chase after things I’m interested in and just learn more everyday.”
Tanner is in his first season as the co-pitching coach of the Orem Owlz, the Anaheim Angels’ minor-league affiliate in the Pioneer League (advanced rookie level).
“It’s been awesome,” he said. “Probably my favorite part of this is being able to help players ranging from ages 18 through 24 just improve their careers and help them all get better. At the end of the day, my job is to help them get closer to the major leagues. That I truly enjoy. It’s a pleasure and an honor.”
Tanner pitched for Trinity Christian College in Illinois and then moved in 2017 to the Seattle area for a baseball training facility to see if he wanted to further his playing career with hopes of signing a professional contract.
But about six weeks in, Tanner realized he did not want to continue to pursue that avenue and decided to keep working at the facility to help other athletes.
In February of ‘18, he returned to the Sheboygan area and worked in the sales department of Old Wisconsin Sausage.
In January of ‘19, Tanner was attending a Bucks’ game when a friend called to see if he would be interested in working for the Owlz, a team located about 45 minutes from Salt Lake City, Utah.
“I had some connections in the organization, people that I had gotten to know over the previous couple of years, and they reached out to me to see if I would be interested in interviewing for this coaching position,” Tanner said. “Honestly, it was just knowing the right people and getting an opportunity. … I wasn’t pursuing this opportunity so much so as I was looking for other baseball opportunities. I was talking with other people and just generously interested in getting back into baseball at the time.”
Tanner started his new career this past February and was in Tempe, Ariz., for Anaheim’s Spring Training. He was on the minor-league side of things, however, so there was not a lot of interaction with the Angels.
“Spring Training is awesome and crazy at the same time,” Tanner said. “There’s a lot of stuff going on in 30 days. Just being able to be a part of it all and try to make an impact on people’s careers in this short period is exhilarating and a lot of fun.”
So could Tanner see himself as a pitching coach for a Major League Baseball team someday?
“I try to remain pretty career agnostic as far as what I want to do in the future,” he said. “I’m mostly just interested in building skills that are useful, kind of a cross of a broad area of possibility. Whatever happens from there, happens, and I’d be OK with that.”
Jared, who graduated from South in ‘15 and from UW-Milwaukee this past spring, is interning with the Milwaukee Brewers this summer in their strategy and analytics department.
“Getting on the baseball side of things would be really awesome like my brother,” Jared said. “I think doing something like that would be a dream job, working in player development or coaching. But I do really enjoy what I’m doing here, and ideally this would work into something full time.”
Although working at Miller Park is new, Jared had a chance to play there for the Panthers’s baseball team this past season. He also pitched against the Brewers in spring training as a freshman and sophomore.
“That was an incredible experience,” Jared said. “I also got to start a (college) game at Miller Park and that was awesome. I had a ton of family. That was really cool. I got to play in the Alaska Baseball League after my junior season. That’s got to be the best experience of my life. … A lot of this stuff, I won’t ever forget it.”
Like making the All-Horizon League second team as a senior after setting a school record for most strikeouts in a season with 104.
“It was cool,” he said. “I never really envisioned breaking a record like that. I kind of had my eye on it toward the end of the season when I realized I was close. It’s a nice honor to have.”
Although two teammates were selected in the MLB draft in June, Jared did not and says it was pretty tough knowing his playing days were over.
“It’s different,” Jared said. “Especially the first few days after our season ended and after the draft when I didn’t get picked up, it was just kind of weird waking up and not having the feeling of needing to go train or go throw or go to practice or whatever it may be.
“Baseball has been my No. 1 passion throughout my whole life. I know skill-wise, I felt as if I was just getting to my peak. My stuff was the best it had ever been this season and felt I had much more to give. It was very sad and bummed out when I didn’t get picked up. I had to join a softball league.”