Stephen Peterson recently wrapped up a baseball career that most people can only dream about, having played six years of professional baseball as a pitcher in the Milwaukee Brewers system, reaching as high as AAA before calling it a career after prior to the 2017 season.
Prior to his professional career he had a terrific collegiate career, playing two seasons at Division 1 Marist College before moving on to the University of Rhode Island where in his senior season he led the team in ERA and strikeouts and was named team MVP in 2011 while also earning All-New England honors.
Those are just some snippets of what Peterson accomplished in his career after high school, but Peterson will be the first to tell you that so much of his success is because of the lessons he learned while playing at St. John’s Prep, where he graduated from in 2006.
To say Peterson had a brilliant career at St. John’s Prep would be an understatement. Among his list of accomplishments as an Eagle was an undefeated career record, never losing a game on either the freshman, JV or varsity teams. Peterson was 2-0 for the Eagles as a junior and 8-0 with a 1.00 ERA as a senior, helping them win the Division 1 North championship in both years and advance to the state championship game as a senior in 2006.
His dominance really emerged as a senior when he had a pair of no hitters, including one in the Division 1 state tournament, earning him Division 1 North Tournament MVP honors. He was also named to the Boston Herald All-Scholastic team as a senior and was the MVP of the 2006 Agganis All-Star game.
On Saturday morning, Peterson will be recognized for his brilliant St. John’s Prep career when he is inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame, an honor that Peterson is just as proud to accept as St. John’s is proud to bestow upon him.
“It’s very exciting. It’s something I have been looking forward to for a couple of years, because a lot of guys I played with have been inducted, so for me to get inducted means so much to me,” Peterson said. “To have my name up there with the guys I played with as well as so many other great players is a great honor.”
Making the honor even more special for Peterson is his great love for St. John’s Prep and what the school and the baseball program have meant to his career and to his life.
“I made a lot of great friends and I met a lot of great people while I was there. It helped me grow as a player and as a person,” Peterson said. “It is hard for me to put into words what it meant for me to be there. I remember being in middle school and my dad taking me to see the high school playoff games and watching how they went about their business. So, when I finally got to be a part of it, it meant so much to me.”
And being a part of the St. John’s family played a big role in Peterson achieving his success on the baseball diamond not only in high school, but into his professional career.
“With so many great players around, you had to step up your game. I didn’t make varsity until my junior year and it wasn’t until my senior year that I stepped up and became the number one guy for the team,” Peterson said. “Being in a successful environment like that and having the mentality of being a winner meant so much. We were always being pushed by our coaches and pushed in the classroom as to what it takes to get to the next level whether it be athletically or academically and that has helped me in so many aspects of my life”
The push and motivation from his coaches and teachers certainly helped Peterson become the player and person he is today, but if truth be told much of his motivation came from within. From the time he was playing for the St. John’s Prep freshman team until his last day in the Brewers organization, Peterson had a simple philosophy on preparing for each upcoming season.
“Being prepared for the season has always been a big thing for me,” Peterson said. “I always wanted to be the most prepared player on the field at all times. I never wanted to look back and have any regrets. I wanted to be always know that I had done everything I could to be the best player I could be.”
That mentality is probably why Peterson was able to accept the end of his baseball career when the Brewers released him during the spring of 2017. Despite his coming off one of the more successful seasons of his career in 2016, having gone 8-4 with a 2.77 ERA in 52 appearances, striking out 49 batters in 55 innings for the Biloxi Shuckers, the AA affiliate of the Brewers, the Brewers organization decided to move on from Peterson, who was 29 years old at the time.
While there were opportunities to continue his career, Peterson knew that the time was right to call it a career and focus on life after baseball.
“I had always said that I would play until they took the jersey away from me, so when they released me I decided it was time,” Peterson said. “If an opportunity had come up with an affiliated team I may have taken it. I had a couple of offers with independent teams, but I didn’t want that.
“I had given everything I had for so many years that I could feel that body wise and arm wise I was just batting through so much. When they told me I was released it took a couple of weeks to sink in, but I was able to look back and know that I did everything I possibly could. I have absolutely no regrets because I know that I gave it everything I had every single season. It was just time to move on.”
What Peterson has moved on to is becoming of the directors and pitching instructors at the Nor’Easters Baseball Academy in Tewksbury. He had been an instructor during the off season of his playing days as well, working with high school players to help them get the most of out their ability, just as he got the most out of his during his playing days.
“Baseball is the only thing I have ever known. I have done it all my life, and I had the opportunity to do it at a high level, so to be able to pass some of that on to these kids is very rewarding,” Peterson said. “I still love the game and I still love being able to pass it on to other kids. I enjoy watching the young kids play and seeing them improve.”
In addition to beginning his second career, also helping to ease the decision to move away from the game he loves was the family he loves, starting with his fiancé Colleen Splaine, and his now year and a half old son Brady.
Splaine, along with Peterson’s Wilmington based family have been a huge source of support for him throughout his career and they will be there with him on Saturday night to celebrate his induction.
“I met Colleen my senior year of high school, so she has been with me every step of the way through all of the ups and downs and has always been there for me,” Peterson said. “She and my family are everything to me. The love and support I have received from all of them, from my mom and dad to my fiancé has meant so much to me. I see them as a big a part of this as me. I owe so much of it to them.”