Strikeout king Shelley retires
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October 31, 2007 - LOVES PARK, Ill. – If there’s a strikeout record that means anything to fans of the Rockford RiverHawks, it was probably set by Jason Shelley.

Shelley, who holds the Frontier League’s single-season strikeout record and is also the RiverHawks’ career leader, announced his retirement from baseball on Monday. Shelley, Baseball America magazine’s 2003 Independent League Player of the Year, finished his career in September by pitching Gary to the pennant in the independent Northern League.

“(Retiring is) not a big deal,” Shelley said. “I’ll probably feel more sad when the season comes.”

Shelley, 30, spent nine seasons in professional baseball. Pittsburgh drafted him as a shortstop in 1999 and converted him to the mound a year later. Shelley came to the Frontier League in 2001 with Cook County. The RiverHawks picked him up following that season in a trade for Garet Luebbert.

In just a season and a half in the Frontier League, Shelley rewrote the record book. In 2002, he struck out a record 156 batters. In 2003, he had a 0.85 earned-run average when Milwaukee signed him at the all-star break. Both league records still stand.

The Brewers sent him to Class AA Huntsville, where he went 2-3 with a 2.63 ERA in nine starts in the second half of the ’03 season.

Shelley’s 16 wins for Rockford is tied for third on the team’s all-time list. His 238 strikeouts is the RiverHawks’ career record.

Although injuries limited Shelley to 17 starts this year – he was 7-4 with a 4.85 ERA – he picked up two wins in the playoffs for the Railcats.

“It was fun, I had a blast,” Shelley said. “I got far and I wouldn’t regret anything. It’s just time to move on.”

The RiverHawks are members of the Frontier League, a 12-team independent professional baseball league that will play its 16th season in 2008. Advertising and season-ticket information is available by calling the box office at (815) 885-2255. Most games are broadcast live on WNTA (1330 AM) and the internet. Fans can also visit the RiverHawks online at www.rockfordriverhawks.com.


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