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Chesterfiled County native Jake Lowery played minor-league baseball before being drafted by the Cleveland Indians. Photo courtesy Mahoning Valley Scrappers
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Tim Lowery (left) has coached both of his sons at Cosby.His older son, Jake (right), now plays professionally.Photo courtesy Tim Lowery
As a kid, Tim Lowery bonded with his father through baseball. Today, he's making that same connection with his sons, Jake and Luke.
"Both of my parents were supportive of my playing baseball," says Lowery, who serves as head baseball coach at Cosby High School in Midlothian. "As a coach, I can help pass baseball along to another generation."
Father and sons have all made their mark on the game they love to play. Lowery, who is in his 29th season coaching high school baseball, has had 363 wins as a varsity coach and seven Dominion District titles, 18 regional berths, three state-tournament berths, two regional titles and one state championship. During his tenure at Cosby, he has been voted Dominion District, Central Regional and Virginia State Coach of the Year. This year, his son Jake, 21, led the nation in collegiate baseball with 200 total bases, 80 runs and 91 runs batted in while playing for James Madison University, earning him Player of the Year honors from the Colonial Athletic Association, the Virginia Sports Information Directors and the Eastern College Athletic Conference.
The locally produced CollegeBaseballInsider.com, which covers collegiate action nationwide, named him the nation's best hitter. The Cleveland Indians scooped Jake up in the fourth round of the 2011 Major League Baseball draft just before he won the Coleman Company-Johnny Bench Award, presented to the nation's top collegiate catcher. Over the summer, he played for the minor-league Mahoning Valley Scrappers during the short season and participated in the Indians' Instructional League in Arizona.
Luke Lowery, 17, a senior at Cosby High School, finished the 2011 baseball season on the first team All Metro and All District for catcher and second team All State. His summer-league team won the 16-and-under National World Wood Bat Association Championship in 2010. In 2011, he participated in the East Coast Pro Showcase in Lakeland, Fla. He has committed to attending East Carolina University on a scholarship.
Inside and Out
"Baseball is in our blood," says Luke, who is still being coached on the field by his father. Jake also played for the Cosby team for two years. Lowery acknowledges that coaching your own children is difficult but doable. "On the field we are coach and player," he says. "Once I am home, I am Dad."
Lowery ensures that everyone on the field receives equal treatment, that he shows no favoritism. "It's a difficult line to walk," observes Ted Salmon, Cosby's director of student activities. "Tim has done an outstanding job of that. He set certain expectations for his sons, and they knew what they were. They have always tried to meet them."
Salmon describes Lowery as a person of tremendous integrity and one of the hardest-working people he has ever seen. When it comes to baseball, Lowery knows the game inside and out. "His teams are very well prepared for every situation," Salmon says. "He has the ability to put his teams in a position to be successful. He's totally committed. He never waivers."
Sean Ryan, head baseball coach at Benedictine High and founder of CollegeBaseballInsider.com, says Lowery is a fair, no-nonsense kind of coach. "Players respond to the way he coaches," he says. "His teams are among the best in the area."
Ronnie Shaban, who played for Lowery and now attends Virginia Tech, speaks glowingly of Lowery's coaching methods. "He is a great coach. He's one of the best I have had," he says. "He helps his guys reach their potential and gets them ready for college baseball. He builds character as well."
Even though baseball is Lowery's main athletic focus, he's given his sons the opportunity to test out other sports. Luke currently plays football at Cosby, as did Jake, who also ran indoor track.
Both of Lowery's sons started playing baseball in the backyard when they were around 3 years old. They participated in Little League and summer baseball league. "Only one time have they ever played on the same team," Lowery says. "That was two summers ago in the summer league."
The Lowery brothers are alike in some ways and very different in others on the field. Both are catchers. Jake was first interested in that position because he "liked all the gear" and later found he had a "knack for catching."
Luke says he fell in love with baseball as soon as he played the game. "It definitely was a passion. Once I started playing catcher, it became a natural position for me."
Both have what Salmon describes as a "cannon for an arm." "Jake's technique as a catcher is flawless," he says. "He could throw a runner out going to second without ever coming out of his catcher's crouch. He can rifle a ball to second base." Luke has the same potential. "He's tremendously strong."
Both are power hitters. Jake, who bats both left-handed and right-handed, hit Cosby's first-ever home run. The ball sailed 400 feet, eventually landing 75 feet past the school fence on Fox Club Parkway. Luke, who bats and throws righty, also hit a 400-plus-foot home run that landed in an adjacent softball field.
Ryan rates Jake as one of the best, if not the best, all-around hitters that he has coached against. "What's also impressive is that he has gotten better and better each year in college, and that is a testament to his incredible work ethic," he says.
Johnny Bench Award
Neither Jake nor his family will ever forget this June, when they gathered in the living room to listen to the draft on the computer. When the phone rang, they saw the Cleveland Indians' name pop up on caller ID. "They said Jake was going to be drafted in the forth round," Lowery says. "He was the 128th pick overall. We gave him a hug. It's everything he wanted."
When Jake won the Johnny Bench Award this summer, it was a special occasion for father and son. "When his name was called, I had tears in my eyes," Lowery says. "It was an emotional night." Jake says he was shocked to hear his name called. "It was crazy. I thought [I had] an outside shot of winning."
Luke acknowledges that people compare him to his older brother. That doesn't bother him, he says. "I know my dad compares. I think it helps you out when you compare yourself to somebody else. A lot of times [Jake] does better, and a lot of times I do better."
As brothers, Luke and Jake get along well. On the field, they are very competitive. "Jake is a lot better catcher than I am, but I steal more bags than he does," Luke says. "He may have speed, but I get a better read on the pitchers, and I'm bigger than him."