PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — Ben Zobrist was back home this weekend.
Yes, he visited family in central Illinois but while he was home he did something he never imagined was possible while growing up in Eureka. He was inducted into the Greater Peoria Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday night.
“I never thought this would be part of my story,” said Zobrist. “I never thought about being professional at sports. So to be a great central Illinois athlete was what I aspired to do watching highlights on local (TV) channels.”
Zobrist went from Eureka, Illinois to the World Series. Not exactly in that order.
He went played college baseball at Olivet Nazarene and Dallas Baptist University. He was drafted by Houston in the sixth round of the 2004 draft and made a name for himself after being traded to Tampa bay.
He reached the peak of his career when he won consecutive World Series titles, first with the Royal sin 2015, then with the Cubs in 2016.
He was the World Series MVP in 2016. That’s what most people in central Illinois remember about the utility player who spent 14 years in Major League Baseball.
Which is why an hour after the GPSHOF induction dinner, Zobrist was still graciously signing autographs for Cub fans.
“It means a lot to see people with smiles on their faces meet me. Even though I’ve been retired several years and it’s been six-and-a-half years since we won (the World Series) with the Cubs,?” Zobrist said. “To some people it’s like yesterday. That’s the joy I get.”
Zobrist has been retired since 2019. He says he doesn’t miss the grind of getting ready for big league baseball seasons and he is enjoying retirement with his kids in Tennessee.
But he does want to get back into baseball when the time is right.
“Probably not in coaching,” Zobrist said. “At some point I’d like to (return to baseball). Hopefully working with professional athletes between the (competition) side and off-the-field. Mental and emotional health stuff. I’d like to step into that world and help athletes with that.”