My Chat with Jasha Balcom

Balcom42When I received the word that former Boise Hawks center fielder Jasha Balcom was playing a stunt double for Chadwick Boseman in the new movie, 42, to say that I was stoked was an understatement.  The former University of Georgia standout played for the Hawks the entire 2004 season – the last time that the franchise won a Northwest League title, and I remember that big, bright smile that he wore to the ballpark every day.  I remember sitting at what is now Wahooz for the preseason host-family get-together and meeting Jasha for the first time, making sure that I knew his name was Jay-sha and not Jah-sha (as many members of the media have said over the past week).  I also recall his first and only home run as a member of a Cubs affiliate (listen to my radio call – yes from nine years ago), a long ball over the manual scoreboard in Everett.

BalcomHeadshotI got the opportunity to spend 30 minutes on the phone with the Georgia native, who hit .279 with a homer and 24 RBI during that memorable 2004 season – and you can hear the entire interview here, talking about his time in Boise, what he is doing now, and his role in the movie, 42.

I did some investigating, and found out that Balcom is the owner of HittersBox Baseball Academy in Duluth, Ga.  JB told me he built the facility for HittersBox from the ground up – starting with one batting cage, and today, it is now 60,000-square feet with 10 batting cages and five pitching mounds.  A professional swing coach, Balcom worked a few years back with 2012 Hawk, Trey Martin, and the two worked together before Martin made the trek to Boise (focusing on shortening up his swing – the same thing Bill Buckner worked with him during the season) – with JB giving him an inside look at the City of Trees and the Northwest League.

Balcom3Balcom vividly recalls his time in Boise – enjoying the downtown area and his host family, and remembers how beautiful traveling the Northwest (especially Eugene, Spokane, and Vancouver).  He loved the fans in Boise and how passionate they were – and still keeps in touch with teammates Darin Downs and Jerry Blevins, who are currently playing in the Major Leagues.

JB’s story on his introduction to major motion pictures came way of another former Boise Hawk, Brad Bouras (who hit .349 with six homers and 60 RBI in 2001 – helping the Hawks to a NWL East Division pennant.  Bouras let him know that they were looking for extras to shoot Negro League scenes in “42”, but after sending photos to those in charge, they saw that Balcom was the same height and build of Boseman – and the stuntman for Jackie Robinson was born.

Balcom has been all over the news in the past two weeks – as word got out that he “played” Jackie Robinson.  The following are stories and clips from over the past couple days.

ESPN – http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/9160031/ex-minor-leaguer-jasha-balcom-adds-jackie-robinson-realism-42

Balcom2MILB.com – http://www.milb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130412&content_id=44531998&fext=.jsp&vkey=news_farmalmc&sid=milb

Idaho Statesman – http://www.idahostatesman.com/2013/04/12/2531375/bringing-no-42-to-life.html

Idaho Sports Talk (KTIK-FM) – http://www.ktik.com/common/page.php?feed=11&pt=Jasha+Balcom&id=1493&is_corp=0

Atlanta Magazine – http://www.atlantamagazine.com/agenda/2013/04/11/talking-with-jasha-balcom-former-uga-star-and-baseball-stuntman-for-42-movie

Daytona Beach News-Journal – http://www.news-journalonline.com/article/20130410/SPORTS/130409760

Gwinnett Daily Post – http://www.gwinnettdailypost.com/news/2013/apr/13/duluth-man-worked-as-hollywood-stunt-double-in-42/

WUSA-TV 9 – http://www.wusa9.com/news/article/254096/283/Stunt-Double-In-Jackie-Robinson-Movie-42-Talks

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