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Joe Kelly has the most unbelievable Draft Day story of all-time

Rob Bradford
June 08, 2018 - 5:20 pm

Saturday will be the ninth anniversary. A day, when Joe Kelly thinks about it, elicits a disgusted shake of the head, followed by "I guess it all worked out." 

Kelly called it the Perfect Storm -- the day he was to be drafted into Major League Baseball and his 21st birthday.

The combination cost Kelly $109,000 and a chance to play for his hometown team. It is perhaps the most unbelievable Draft Day story you will ever find.

"I would have been an Angel if I was sober," Kelly said prior to Friday night's game.

The story starts with Kelly already planning his big party at Oggi's Pizza and Brewing Co. in Corona, Calif. After starring at California-Riverside, the outfielder-turned-reliever knew he was going to be a high-round pick. He also was planning for the moment he turned 21.

"I turned 21 the day of the Draft. So double-whammy," the Red Sox reliever said. "I knew I was getting drafted, obviously, and I turned 21 that day. So obviously that doesn’t mix too well. Let’s just say I was really, really, really belligerently drunk before the draft even started."

With 50 people at the establishment there to celebrate Kelly's two big achievements, the pitcher got a call. It was from the Angels, a team that played just minutes from his home. The noise made Kelly go outside to take the call from the team's representative.

It didn't go well.

"They called me and said, ‘Our pick is coming up, what would it take to sign you?’ I threw out some (expletive) number. Something ridiculous," Kelly said. "I said, ‘I’m only going to sign for this.’ Here comes the pick and I didn’t get picked. I’m not realizing what happened until it clicked in my brain. I was like, ‘(Expletive), I probably messed that one up.’ Good thing no other teams called me to ask me about money, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have been drafted."

The Angels would go on to pick current Diamondbacks starter Patrick Corbin with the final pick in the second round of the 2009 Draft. Eighteen picks later, Kelly saw his name come across the screen as the third-round pick of the Cardinals.

"When I drafted they called me to congratulate me and I just said, ‘Thanks, it’s my birthday I’ve got to go,’" said Kelly, who ultimately took a signing bonus of $341,000 from the Cardinals, more than $100,000 less than the number Corbin agreed to with the Angels.

"I should have just said, ‘Just draft me and I’ll sign for whatever,’" he said. "All's well that ends well."

 

 

 

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