PEORIA – A College World Series that never was. Guitar Hero jams that were epic. Super cool bonds that have yet to break.
For the past 30 years, the Arizona Fall League has provided a unique opportunity for prospects from every major league team to show off their baseball skills as they compete with six teams spread across the Valley. For some of the players, it’s also a welcome chance to reunite with former high school and college teammates.
Trevor Hauver, Gage Workman and Justin Fall, who were baseball teammates at Arizona State, not only had the opportunity to play against each other in the Fall League, but a chance to return to Phoenix Municipal Stadium, their alma mater diamond, and reminisce about the highs and lows from just two years ago.
The Fall League hosted a tripleheader Oct. 22 at Muni, similar to the one it held a week prior at Chase Field. The ASU alumni were ecstatic to be back at the ballpark they once shared as players, particularly because of the opportunity for friends and family to watch them play again.
For Fall, the return to the stadium ignited positive thoughts surrounding the entire day.
“It was nostalgic first and foremost,” said Fall, a pitcher in the Miami Marlins system. “The place is beautiful and brings up great memories for myself, so going back was really exciting and it was cool because my family flew in Saturday morning and they came to a lot of my games when I played there.”
Workman and Hauver both shared similar experiences, noting how great it was to catch up with some of the grounds crew as well as the staff who work at Muni.
Workman’s day began with a splash as he drove in the Salt River Rafters’ first run against the Peoria Javelinas with an RBI triple that would propel the Rafters to a 3-0 victory.
Hauver and Fall faced off against each other when Surprise took on Mesa in the final game of the day. Hauver, an outfielder with the Texas Rangers organization, secured an RBI single off Fall, and the duo later recalled the moment they got to play on the same field again.
“It was super cool. When I saw we were facing him I was like, ‘Oh alright!’ I remember facing him in fall ball a while ago, but he has been doing really well so it was super cool. I was just trying to be aggressive and I got a good pitch to hit off of him and it was fun. We talked a little bit after the game and he was like ‘You got me there’,” Hauver said.
Fall said that although Hauver was able to drive in a run off him, he appreciated returning to the place where it all began and reliving the nostalgia with two of his former ASU teammates.
The three were on the 2020 Sun Devils Team. The season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, forever leaving in question whether Arizona State might have done something special that year.
Like many of his teammates, Fall believed that season would end with a trip to the College World Series, but instead the Sun Devils – like much of the world – never left home.
“The first word that comes to my mind was disappointment. We were absolutely loaded with talent, especially all of the guys that we had taken in the 2020 draft,” Fall said. “We had a really great shot of bringing some hardware back to ASU which every team is trying to accomplish in the program, so it was definitely disappointing, but obviously it was crazy circumstances and there was not much we could do about that.”
Despite their disappointment, the three still managed to make memorable moments with fellow Sun Devil teammates.
“We had so many great guys when I was there,” Hauver said. “One of the best memories I remember was when we were playing at Oregon State my sophomore year and we were down three (runs) and me, Spencer Torkelson and Hunter Bishop went back-to-back-to-back and that was the coolest thing I have ever been a part of.”
Workman, an infielder in the Detroit Tigers organization, said some of his favorite moments did not even necessarily come from the field.
“To be honest, the off-the-field stuff was just as fun as the on-the-field stuff because it was such a great group of guys and we always loved spending time together,” Workman said. “Man, we played a lot of Guitar Hero. Our Guitar Hero nights were always solid.”
Not only were the three reunited in the Fall League, but ASU strength and conditioning coach Jason Robbins also joined them. He is currently serving as the strength coach for the Rafters, and Workman credits him for helping the trio make it to the big leagues.
With only one more week of play in the Fall League, the trio will continue to forge new paths in the city where it all began. If all goes as planned, they’ll play with or against each other again and again and again on major league diamonds. Until then, they’ll always have Muni and plenty of memories.
“Being from Arizona and having family out here coming to every game and getting to play at home with this nice weather and being back in Arizona has been a blast,” Workman said. “I still keep in touch with a lot of the guys from the 2020 team. Torkelson and I are in the Detroit Tigers organization together so I definitely still talk to a lot of other teammates. A lot of those guys are still living here and I am lucky that I am getting to see them pretty often.”