During the summer, there are many players in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League that are far away from home. During these couple of months away, a player will spend time with a host family that will generously take them in. And on days like Father’s Day when the players may not be able to spend time with their families, it is especially important to recognize the host families that are able to build relationships with and to help players away from home. Brian Ledford and Trish Harris are a perfect example.
Brian and Trish hosted players for the Licking County Settlers for ten years. Recently on June 11th, they were able to see two of their former players face off against each other in the majors. Ryan Cordell plays for the White Sox and was with the Settlers in 2012, and Tanner Rainey pitches for the Washington Nationals and was with the Settlers in 2014. The White Sox won the interleague game in Chicago 7-5. But it was a long journey to get to this point for these two players – and for Brian and Trish as well. Yet it is an interesting story that goes beyond these four and isn’t over yet.
Brian and Trish both had connections to the game of baseball before they served as a host family. Brian hosted for the Babe Ruth World Series, and Trish had been an athletic trainer for the Licking County Settlers for three years. After they bought their first home, they stepped up and decided to serve as a host family – their way of helping the team. Brian and Trish said, “the best part about [hosting] is the relationships you get to develop with the young men and their families and then be able to stay in touch and watch them pursue their dreams and start families of their own.” After a player’s time with the Settlers is up, Brian and Trish keep close tabs on how they are doing in their college seasons and beyond if they are able to make it to the higher levels. Their first player, Brent Choban, was hosted for three summers from 2009 to 2011. They saw him play in Kentucky shortly after his time in Licking County. They hosted Adam Walker in 2010 and watched him throughout his path in the minors. He was drafted in 2012 by the Twins. He would be the first of four players to be drafted that had been hosted by Brian and Trish.
Ryan Cordell was drafted by the Rangers in 2013, and Tanner Rainey by the Reds in 2015. Ryan and Tanner knew of each other, but Brian and Trish were following their paths to see if they would meet up and eventually play against each other. That happened during Spring Training in Arizona in 2018. “It was indescribable,” Brian and Trish recalled. “In the first meeting, Ryan got a single off of Tanner, and eventually scored a run. One of our favorite photos is a screenshot of Tanner checking second as Ryan looks on towards him.” When they were both at the Triple-A level in August last year, they faced off – and Tanner struck out Ryan. Ryan made his first appearance in the majors on September 3rd last year. Tanner’s debut was on April 10th last year with the Reds but was traded to the Nationals in December for another Tanner – Tanner Roark. “We were planning on making a trip to Chicago to see Ryan and wanted to try and make the trip when he had an off-day to follow so we could spend more than a few minutes with him. We saw the Nationals would be in Chicago before an off-day and hoped that both would be with their major league clubs for that series. Luckily for us, they were, and Trish had a group text with both guys working out how we could all meet up.” They were able to meet both players at the same time. Tanner and Ryan met each other for the first time, which Brian and Trish admit may have been a more exciting experience for them than the other two. “They haven’t had to face each other since AAA last August – how could you choose a side? Thankfully in four games between the Nationals and White Sox, we never had to make the choice.”
Brian and Trish no longer host and have instead had their summers return to normalcy. However, they said they honestly never had a bad experience when hosting. One can clearly see the familial bond shared between the host family and their players – and it doesn’t have to end at the end of the summer baseball season. Besides attending the games of their former players, Brian and Trish have a group text with all of their players to wish them Merry Christmas, and they have apps and an MLB.TV subscription to follow them. These friendships will last even longer. They will be attending a wedding in Colorado for a player they hosted in 2016 later this summer. Additionally, they’re planning a trip in August when the White Sox play the Phillies to visit Ryan and his roommate who stayed with them who is now a police officer near Philadelphia.
“Hosting has honestly been a great experience for us,” Brian and Trish looked back on. “These guys live all over the country and are all doing great things with their lives, so it is nice to be able to stay in touch.”