Returning home to play in Texas

Record indicates that Skyler Ewing's great uncle died at the Alamo

(Reynaldo Holguin )

By Jerry Briggs / San Antonio Missions | April 12, 2019 9:28 PM

Missions backup catcher Skyler Ewing said he is happy to be playing on a professional baseball team in San Antonio, where his family apparently has quite a history.

Ewing said his grandmother has always told him that his seventh great uncle, James L. Ewing III, died in the battle of the Alamo.

"He was from Tennessee," Ewing said in an interview Friday afternoon. "He was with (Col. William B.) Travis. He was like his right-hand man. I'm pretty sure he was by his side, inside (the fortress), when he died.

"Travis was sick. Or, had been wounded. I can't remember which. But he was definitely in that back room (when he was killed)."

Records posted online at the Texas State Historical Association identified a James L. Ewing of Tennessee as a defender of the Alamo.

According to the website, James Ewing was born in Tennessee in 1812 and "took part in the siege of Bexar."

"Ewing died in the battle of the Alamo on March 6, 1836," according to his bio posted on the site.

And now, all these years later, Skyler Ewing is playing baseball for the San Antonio Missions?

"A bit ironic, right?" Ewing said.

Ewing grew up in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, where he was a star at Arlington High School.

He continued his career at Rice University, where he was a standout under legendary coach Wayne Graham.

The Giants drafted Ewing out of Rice in the sixth round of the 2014 draft. Ewing described Graham as "an unbelievable" mentor.

"He taught me a lot about being a man," Ewing said. "(About) being mentally strong. That was kind of his deal as a coach. He would test certain guys. He knew how to push certain individuals.

"He'd have two or three negs (to say to you) and right when you didn't think you could handle it, he'd give you something positive. If there's anything to take away from that, it's to be mentally strong."

The advice has come in handy.

Released twice early last season, once by the Braves organization and once by the Marlins, Ewing's professional baseball career was clearly in jeopardy.

But he signed with an independent team in Florence, Kentucky, and had a big year, batting .300 and cranking out 16 home runs.

The move clearly paid dividends, as he agreed to terms in the offseason with the Milwaukee Brewers.

"I played with the Florence Freedom," the 26-year-old Ewing said Thursday. "They're in the Frontier League. I had a couple of other offers. But it was the best fit for me. I wanted to go play every day, and I wanted catch. I felt in my heart that I could still play, and I wanted to show that."

Making the Missions' roster is a milestone achievement in Ewing's career. Up until this season, he's never played about the Double-A level.

"It's a great feeling," he said.

At the same time, playing time could be hard to find this year. Jacob Nottingham is the team's No. 1 catcher. Tuffy Gosewisch started Friday night. Ewing, who is 0 for 3 in one game so far, has been given no guarantees.

Asked how he fits in with the team in the long term, he said, "Umm, that's a tough question. I kind of do what they tell me and stay ready. If you stay ready, you don't necessarily have to get ready. So that's kind of my mentality

"Help out where I can and be ready."

Regardless, Ewing said he is happy to be playing on a team in San Antonio, in his home state.

"I remember going to the (river) walk when I was younger," he said. "It's good to be back in Texas. It's a different feeling when you cross that line. San Antonio is a fun town. Seventh largest city in the country.

"It's big. Just like everything else in Texas."

 

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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