Flashback Friday – Jake Toohey 2003, 2005, 2006 Rochester Honker

Jake Toohey – Illinois
2003, 2005, 2006 Rochester Honkers
Photo of Jake & Wife Erin

What’s your favorite memory while playing for the Rochester Honkers?
JT: The 2006 summer season had quite a few amazing memories.  The best one has to be the night we won the championship.  After a long, grueling season it was a great feeling to sweep through the playoffs and win it all at Mayo Field.  The celebration that followed did not disappoint either.  A lot of guys had their families in town for the game and we had a good time out on the deck in left field.  It was weird hearing about some of the guys from Thunder Bay (our opponent in the championship series) driving their own cars down to Rochester for the end of the series so that they could take off and get home afterward.  We kind of got the sense that they just wanted the season to be over.  After the season we had, I don't think anyone on the Honkers felt that way.

What's your favorite non playing memory from your time with the Rochester Honkers?
JT: The All-star weekend in 2006 at LaCrosse was probably the best off-field memory of the summer.  We had 6 guys on the All-star team, and also had Chris Jones in the Home Run Derby.  Everyone from the front office and coaching staff was there, too.  After Jones won the Derby, we were all celebrating and having a good time.  Without going into too much detail, Jones was feeling like the biggest rock star in the world that night, so we decided to play a pretty elaborate prank on him, with everyone from the Honkers in on it.  We punked him pretty good.

Who was your favorite teammate when you played for the Rochester Honkers and why?
JT: Tough question to answer.  I played in 2003, as well, and Jimmy Conroy (also a teammate at Illinois) is still a good friend of mine, to this day.  From that 2006 team, Chris Jones and Eric Hoffmann were probably my two best friends on the team.  That team was a very tight knit group, so pretty much everyone got along.  It was funny because we were from such different backgrounds.  Jonesy is from Orange County, Hoff is from northern Minnesota, and I'm from Chicago, but we just became good friends right away.

What has happened to you since you left Rochester and what are you doing now?
JT: After 2006, I went back to Illinois and finished my degree and college career in Champaign.  I signed with the Schaumburg Flyers of the independent Northern League after the season and played one season there.  After that, I decided to hang 'em up and joined the real world.  I live in downtown Chicago and I do business development for a software development company called Adage Technologies.  I got engaged in November 2014 and got married in May of 2015.

What was your biggest realization while playing for the Rochester Honkers?
It is going to sound a little cliche, but the 2006 Honkers team made me realize that the key to having success as a team is to have the right kind of people in the clubhouse together.  That is not always the case, since great teams have been filled with guys who didn't like each other.  But we had a lot of guys that fit into their roles, and embraced their roles for the betterment of the team.  No one had an ego, and everyone truly enjoyed coming to the ballpark every day.  I played on a couple teams at Illinois that had as much talent as any other team in the conference and we ended up being pretty bad.  Our 2005 team won the Big Ten Championship after everyone checked their ego at the door and came together as a unit.  I think the 2006 Honkers team was like that from the very first day we got together and the credit for that team attitude goes to our coaches Greg Labbe, Kazu Nagai and Mike Saddler.

Do you stay in contact with former teammates? If so, who?
Jimmy Conroy and I are still good friends.  I was at his wedding in Nashville over the summer and we hung out a lot in Chicago, before he moved down there.  I wish I kept in better touch with some of the guys, but it does get tougher as you get older.  One funny thing happened a couple of years ago.  I was out to lunch with a co-worker at Portillo's in Chicago.  I was sitting there enjoying my sandwich and I heard, "Jake Toohey?!?" from out of nowhere.  I look up and it was Matt Reynolds, our ace from 2006 and current left handed reliever for the Arizona Diamondbacks.  So we caught up for a little while.  At the time he was with the Colorado Rockies and they were in town to play the Cubs.  Since Matt is a Chicago-area native, he had brought some of his teammates to check out Portillo's, a Chicago staple.  So that was fun random run-in and it was cool to hear some quick stories about his times in the Big Leagues.  I still keep track of the guys that are still playing. Efren Navarro, Jr. has been up in the Big Leagues a couple of times, too.  It's pretty cool when you see a former teammate in the MLB.