Friday Flashback: Jonathan Krysa

On July 14, former T-Bones pitcher Jonathan Krysa was at CommunityAmerica Ballpark as part of our 10th anniversary salute. Krysa, who in 2003 started the first game in T-Bones history, was the Northern League's 2006 Pitcher of the Year. He remains the T-Bones all-time leader in appearances, games started, shutouts, innings pitched and strikeouts. Krysa also holds the top three single-season strikeout totals in T-Bones history. Taylor Johnson of caught up with Krysa for this installment of "Friday Flashback."

What’s your favorite memory of the original 2003 T-Bones team?
Jonathan Krysa: I threw out the first pitch in the first game here and then threw a complete game. We should’ve won that night but the umpire called a home run a foul ball. It was an electric night. We were coming out on weekends and getting over 5,000 fans each game. Also, the area out here has grown up so much, there was only a gas station when we were playing.

What was it like to be named pitcher of the year in 2006?
JK: It was really special; I had a lot of things going on that year. I was working full-time at Sprint and I was flying out on my own dime and pitching on road games. I wasn’t necessarily part of the team day in and day out, but I was there for all of the home games. I just had fun with it and I wasn’t as stressed on the mound or during the games. I would just come out and pitch. I threw not to strike anyone out but to just get contact. And I just had a better season, decent ERA and the wins stacked up due to just good offense.

How did you balance working full-time while playing?
JK: I took all of my vacation time and scheduled it with our game schedule. They were willing to do it so it actually worked out really well just for that year. We had set schedules for when I was going to be pitching. Every time I came into the clubhouse they’d yell out “corporate.” I was the only one on the team with another job.

At the start of the Northern League All-Star Game in Kansas City, you pitched to Buck O’Neil.
JK: Magical is the only word I can use to describe that. In homage of him, I coach an 18-and-over team and our name is the Monarchs and we have a picture of Buck on our sleeves. It was a very special time for my family and me. To get to pitch to a legend like that and to be part of history was amazing. He’s bigger than life itself and he’s one of the great legends. He’s one of those who really broke the color barrier in baseball. So he’s not only a baseball legend but a social legend, too. It was very cool to be a part of that.

Do you get to come back to the ballpark often?
JK: Not as often as I’d like to because I’m still playing and doing lessons, so it keeps me from coming back. But I come back a couple of times a year; it’s something that I’d love to do more. If I had a little more time, I’d be out here.

How did you first hear about the T-Bones baseball club?
JK: I was playing in Edinburg, Texas and my dad called and said they were going to be building a baseball stadium in Kansas City, Kansas. I thought they can’t do that with the Royals but he said if they’re coming you should try to come back up. I came up, interviewed with manager "Dirty" Al [Gallagher], gave him my basic baseball resume and I got an invite to spring training. Then I became the first game starter here at the stadium for the T-Bones.

Did you enjoy playing for Al Gallagher?
JK: He was always good and decent to me. I never had any issues with him and it seemed like he always got good guys on the team. We could just never make it through the playoffs. We made it to playoffs a few times while I was here but we could never win in the playoffs. He definitely had the stories and the history, and he was dirty.

Maybe in the same way Gallagher passed along words of wisdom, what’s your advice for young players?
JK: I would say do the consistent things you do every day. Don’t do too much too soon. Especially as a pitcher, you have to know what works for you and stick to that. Make sure you do all of the necessary pre-work and don’t come into the season thinking you’re just going to clean house and that you don’t have to work that hard.

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