"Hey Cleveland! Are you ready? Because I'm coming home!''
Those were the words Nick Swisher placed on his Twitter account shortly after the news broke on Sunday that the former Parkersburg High and Ohio State University standout has agreed to a four-year deal that will make him a member of the Cleveland Indians.
Ever since word leaked out that Cleveland was interested in Swisher, local fans were crossing their fingers that would be the final outcome.
After all, Jacobs Field is just a three-hour drive up Interstate 77.
This has been quite a year for Swisher, both on and off the field. On the field as a member of the New York Yankees, he hit 24 home runs and contributed 93 RBIs.
He now has hit more than 20 home runs in all eight of his full seasons. The 93 RBIs represent the second-highest total of his career.
The contract offer from Cleveland is quite lucrative. Swisher will be paid $56 million over its four-year duration with the team holding a $14 million option for the 2017 season.
As if signing a huge contract and getting to play closer to home isn't enough to celebrate, the 32-year-old Swisher and his wife, actress JoAnna Garcia, are expecting their first child.
Swisher is a hometown hero in Parkersburg. Earlier this year, both he and his brother Mark were inducted into the Parkersburg High School Football Hall of Fame.
Swisher is a fan favorite because of the way he approaches the game. You can't name a player who is more enthusiastic and always amped no matter what the situation.
He truly enjoys the game of baseball. You can tell he's having fun. He interacts with the fans as much as any other player.
When Swisher was selected to participate in the All-Star game in 2010, he joined his father, Steve Swisher, as accomplishing that prestigious feat. That puts them in a select group of 13 father-son combinations who have been All-Stars.
I'll never forget watching Swisher and his constant companion at PHS, Eric Grimm, running sprints on the front campus, over and over and over.
Yes, it obviously takes natural athletic ability to play at the highest level, but it also takes a great deal of dedication and Swisher possesses both.
Swisher is a giving person. His charity, Swish's Wishes, is dedicated to making children's dreams comes true. Plus, you will find his name on the list of contributors to many projects in the Parkersburg area.
The odds against any young person becoming a professional athlete are astronomical. Yet, when local youngsters see someone like Swisher succeed at the highest level of baseball, it inspires them. It lets them know that yes, it is indeed possible for someone from Parkersburg to be an all-star and to wear a World Series ring.
Nick Swisher is coming home.
And that should be a cause for celebration.
Contact Dave Poe at email@example.com