Former Union High School standout is playing final season of summer ball with Ridgefield Raptors
RIDGEFIELD — Let’s get this straight:
Jack Bauer was Jack Bauer long before Jack Bauer saved the day.
“I had the name before the show came out,” said Vancouver’s Jack Bauer. “They stole my name.”
The TV show “24” told the story of counter-terrorist agent Jack Bauer saving the world.
Vancouver’s Jack Bauer does not do that, but he has been known to help win a football game in high school and crush the baseball.
He’s still doing the baseball thing, too.
Going into his senior season of college baseball, Bauer had one more year of college summer ball eligibility. And in his final year, No. 24 has come home. Naturally, he’s No. 24. Been that way in sports since he was in the sixth grade.
While that 24 thing has been with him for years, the Ridgefield Raptors are brand new.
“I’ve been waiting for this my whole life,” Bauer said of having a team in Clark County.
His family moved to Southwest Washington from Tri-Cities. The Bauers left a “good baseball town,” he said but there was no minor league or summer league team in Clark County.
Now there is, and here he is.
Ridgefield Raptors (10-7 in the West Coast League)
Recent play: The Raptors won three non-league home games before returning to West Coast League action with a three-game series in Corvallis this week. The Raptors are 0-2 against the Knights, hoping to salvage the final game of the series Thursday night.
Next home games: The first-place Walla Walla Sweets come to Ridgefield for a three-game series Friday through Sunday. First pitch is 6:35 p.m. Friday and Saturday with a 3:05 p.m. game Sunday.
“It’s sweet being home for my last year of summer ball,” Bauer said.
His baseball journey has taken him from Union High School to Linn-Benton Community College, then Dixie State University in Utah, and now Campbellsville University in Kentucky. He has endured two shoulder surgeries as well.
His first surgery was right after high school. He played for the next two years, but eventually, Bauer said, that first surgery was a failure. He had to go through another one — a redo, he said — when he was in Utah. He ended up never even playing there. Instead, he found a home at NAIA Campbellsville.
“It’s definitely a small little town,” Bauer said.
And a small college. He said the largest class he was in this past year had nine students.
“It’s easy to stay focused on baseball and school,” Bauer said.
That is of importance to Bauer, who acknowledged that his studies were not always his priority. Now, he is closing in on a degree. He wants to get into physical therapy or athletic training. He understands the importance of those professions.
Baseball has been good to him and has taught him a lot about persevering, never giving up. Bauer made a mistake his senior season at Union and was unable to play in the postseason. It was a difficult time, but now he looks back on it as one of life’s lessons.
“I’m not going to be a quitter. I learned from it and moved on,” Bauer said.
He also appreciates this opportunity with the Raptors, to be able to play baseball again so close to home after his last season at Union ended early.
“It’s a good deal to be back here to show what I can do,” Bauer said.
Bat and ball have been part of Bauer for his entire life. His mother, Jenny, played softball at Brigham Young University. His dad, Eric, played four seasons with the San Diego Padres organization.
Eric was a pitcher. Jack was primarily a catcher in his youth. Their communication through the years has grown up around the game.
“Ever since I was a kid, baseball was an outlet to escape from any of the tough deals in life,” Jack Bauer said.
Now he is no longer a kid. In fact, he happens to be one of the team’s elders.
Only a couple of Raptors are going into their senior seasons of college ball.
“It’s kind of nice being the older guy for once,” Bauer said. “But I see some of these guys, and I say, ‘I’ve got to step it up.’”
He’s been doing just fine, too. Bauer is hitting .378, seventh in the West Coast League.
He is not saving the world, but through the years No. 24 Jack Bauer and baseball have made for quite the dramatic duo.