JOLIET – Joliet Junior College associate head baseball coach Gregg Braun, who works with the pitchers and catchers, called catcher TJ Condon to his office.
The news was too exciting to relay over the phone.
“It was pretty awesome,” Condon said. “That’s how I found out. Coach [Braun] called and told me he wanted to tell me in person, so he had me come to his office.”
The message was that Condon, a Minooka graduate, not only was named a first-team NJCAA Division III All-American, but he also won the ABCA/Rawlings Gold Glove Award for catchers. His former Minooka teammate, JJC pitcher Josh Jimenez, was picked on the All-America third team.
The Wolves through the years have had their share of All-Americans, including several first-team selections. In fact, Brandon Howard (Coal City) was chosen as Division III Player of the Year in 2008 and Luke Andrade (Lincoln-Way West) received that supreme honor in 2012.
Past Gold Glove winners were first basemen Alex McCluskey (Joliet Township) in 2009 and Brett Van Asdlen (Minooka) in 2010. However, Condon has the distinction of being the first JJC catcher to receive the Gold Glove.
Other All-America catchers for the Wolves were Mark Gotts (Lockport) in 1994, Mark Raciti (Morris) in 1996 and Brendan Loughrey in 1999. Raciti was a first-team pick while Gotts and Loughrey were named to the second team. Gotts became a first-team All-American as an outfielder in 1995.
Condon has a season remaining at JJC. He finished this spring with a .418 batting average. His 64 hits included 14 doubles, seven triples, three home runs and 43 RBIs. He posted a .660 slugging percentage and .471 on-base percentage for a 1.131 OPS.
Behind the plate, he had a .989 fielding percentage, making two errors all season.
“TJ shuts down other teams’ running games,” Braun said. “He is close to 1.8 seconds to second base, which is pretty darn good.”
Jimenez is planning to attend Illinois Wesleyan next school year. Condon is taking classes this summer and playing occasionally with an adult wood-bat team. If he has his classroom work in order, he could be moving on to a four-year school after next season.
“He’s getting some looks already and will get more,” Braun said. “TJ has put all of his heart into baseball. Even now in the summer, he is working out a lot. What he did this season was spectacular.”
Condon said he was surprised at the awards, especially the Gold Glove.
“I knew I was solid behind the plate, but really, I just go out and play,” he said. “I’m happy to be the first JJC catcher to win the Gold Glove. I’m happy because I did it all for my team and coaches.”
When it comes to baseball, Condon refuses to be out-worked.
“I have been working hard,” Condon said. “To receive honors like these, that pushes me that extra little bit.
“But those are individual awards. Next year I want to help bring the team further.”
The Wolves had high hopes for a trip to the D-III World Series at Tyler, Texas, but fell just short. Condon’s goal is to help rectify that.