A young Zach Jarrett spent lots of time as a kid with his grandfather in his Hickory, North Carolina, home. His mom's dad often took the role of watching the youngest Jarett child, creating large amounts of quality time. That helped, especially as Zach's parents were on the road. His
A young Zach Jarrett spent lots of time as a kid with his grandfather in his Hickory, North Carolina, home. His mom's dad often took the role of watching the youngest Jarett child, creating large amounts of quality time.
That helped, especially as Zach's parents were on the road. His dad drove cars really, really fast, you see. He ended up going to tracks across the country during the peak season. His mom joined her husband for such events.
That wasn't the only sport running through the Jarrett clan, though.
"My grandfather played for the Brooklyn Dodgers and made it up to Triple-A for them," said Jarrett. "He played baseball most of his life and that's who I stayed with most of the time when my dad was traveling and my mom was traveling with him.
"I grew a big connection with him through that and we always sat on the couch watching Atlanta Braves games or Wild West movies. I grew a love for baseball and both he and my uncles told me a lot about it. That's where it started."
The youngest of three children, Zach has grown into a family man through and through, despite the separation in both age and geography for much of the way.
"I don't get to see my family a lot when I'm on the road for six months out of the year, so being able to be around them is nice," said Jarrett. "We're on the road so much from hotel to hotel that it's nice to have a steady place to be at.
"It was tougher when I was growing up. My dad was always on the road and I had my mom and my sisters at home. Then, my sisters went to college and so I was the only one at home. We were all sort of spread out. Once my sisters graduated, they both moved to New York. Now, one lives in Los Angeles and one lives in Charlotte, so we're still all spread out, but we still find a way to stay in touch and travel to see each other."
As much work and effort as Jarrett has put into achieving his goals within the Baltimore Oriole system, it's the work and effort further off the field that has bestowed a grateful, humble spirit upon him.
"That's really important to me and also important to why I do this and who I did it for," said Jarrett. "They keep me driven each and every day. It's really great to have such a close relationship even though we're not all together that often.
"I've always thought that you play for something bigger than the accolades or the recognition of what you do during the game. I play for the name on the front, but also for the name on the back. I want to make my parents proud. I want to make my community proud.
"I know my family has sacrificed for me getting to this point, and they still sacrifice a lot. They sacrifice not being able to see me or taking trips out of their time to come see me. I'm always realizing that they help me get to where I am and help make me who I am. I play for them. Realizing and acknowledging that is important to me."
That community aspect has become integral in understanding the DNA of Jarrett, on and off the field. Take the desire for starting baseball in the first place:
"The thing about baseball is that there are so many things that can individualized, but it's everyone doing their little part as a team at the end of the day," said Jarrett. "That's always been the thing for me: how can we draw each other together as a team and win as many games as we can and fight through it?
"We play a lot of games, 140 plus. It's not always going to be about your stats, but you got to come together as a team and have a chemistry that can show that you're still going to play in the end. I love being a part of a team and seeing everyone work together to try to come out with the end goal."
Then, there's off the field. Heading back to the couch in Hickory, Jarrett would learn piece upon valuable piece of wisdom from his grandfather.
"He was always teaching me lessons about how I was going to go through ups and downs, with some lasting longer than others," said Jarrett. "There are two things you can control: your attitude and your effort. As long as I'm playing the game the right way and having fun, then I know I'm still out here doing it for the right reasons."
If you were to head over to Jarrett's social media profiles, you'd eventually come across three little words in the bio. Simple on the surface, but it's also quite the motivator, encouraging anyone who comes upon to think and wonder why one does what he or she does.
"You can always do things for something bigger in whatever we're doing, whether it's playing sports or working in your job," said Jarrett. "That could be doing something and reaching out to people in your community, instead of just looking at the short-term goals, but looking further to make a bigger effect on your world in whatever way you can.
"I definitely learned a lot from my dad in how he went about his business when he was racing: how he interacted in the community with people around him. The same with my mom in those scenarios. I think I also learned it from being from a small town, with everybody knowing about everything.
"I really learned how to handle things, give back to the community, realize where you're from and really own that and love it."
The thing about Small Town America: roots run deep. Some places may not be bigger than a thumb tack on the map, but the impact that towns and communities have in shaping and molding young men and women can have great impacts.
"Being the youngest, I took a lot of bumps trying to learn everything," said Jarrett. "My two sisters set great precedents for me growing up. It was kind of hard to live up to sometimes, but I think that talks back to the closeness of how you want to handle yourself. I watched them playing sports, whether it was basketball or soccer or school. I wanted to be just like them.
"My parents made a point of following my sisters and doing it the right way. We were lucky that they held us to that standards. Obviously, we were kids, so we were going to mess up, but it was up to us whether we wanted to do that or not. It's led us in a good life so far and we have to just keep pushing."
All these factors have come together to shape the outfielder's why, his reason for putting on the black and orange each day and grinding through long minor league seasons.
"It's tough now because we play a sport where you fail a lot more than you succeed," said Jarrett. "Each level that you bump up is going to get a little more difficult and you're going to have to adjust each time.
"That's not the only thing you're going to struggle with. It's not easy when you have lots of things being thrown your way, but I think that you have got to keep a positive mindset each day, knowing that you're doing it for a reason. As long as you put forth the effort, everything's going to work out one way or another."