New era of Shelby for UK baseball



During UK’s SEC Championship run in 2006, announcers belted out the name John T. Shelby every night at Cliff Hagan Stadium. For anyone in the UK’s baseball stadium, John T. Shelby’s plays throughout his All-SEC caliber season would’ve been the highlights of the games, but for his 7-year-old brother Jaren Shelby they were just brief interruptions from the main action.

Jaren Shelby hardly ever watched the games, despite his oldest brother being being one of the feature players on UK’s team. He had more important matters to attend to, namely playing a pickup game with friends in an empty field behind the stadium. He ran to the fence whenever he heard his brother’s name on the loudspeaker, but always returned right back to his own game.

Jaren Shelby is youngest in a family full of baseball players, so it’s only natural that he would have to wait his turn to play on the big stage.

Fast forward to 2016 and Jaren Shelby, 18, is a senior at Tates Creek High School and is ready to hear his own name over the loudspeaker at Cliff Hagan Stadium next year.

The Shelby baseball dynasty started with the father of the whole bunch, John “T-Bone” Shelby. John Shelby, 58, wasn’t much in his days of playing shortstop for Henry Clay High School. He was known for his small frame, but that didn’t stop him from playing college baseball at Columbia State Community College for one year.

From there, John Shelby signed with the Baltimore Orioles and played 11 seasons in the majors, winning two World Series during that span, one with the Orioles in 1983 and the other with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1988.

The next player up in the Shelby family would be John Shelby’s oldest son, John T. Shelby. John T. Shelby, 30, proved to be the trailblazer for the family’s impact at UK. Along with the SEC Championship, John T. Shelby collected two All-SEC second team honors and finished his career sixth in home runs at UK with 36, and seventh in stolen bases with 42.

On deck would be John Shelby’s next oldest son, Jeremy Shelby, 28. He followed in his father’s footsteps, playing two years at Columbia State before transferring to Grambling State University, where he eventually became a 38th round selection in the 2010 MLB draft.

Following Jeremy Shelby, the family returned to UK with younger brother and current Cat JaVon Shelby. The 20-year-old junior for UK has lived up to his name and then some, earning All-SEC first team honors after his sophomore year and coming into this season a preseason All-American.

With JaVon Shelby’s time coming to an end at UK, Jaren Shelby finally gets his opportunity to prove he’s worthy of the family name.

Big expectations follow Jaren Shelby, the youngest of the Shelby brothers, as that opportunity approaches next year.

“They look to me as the best athlete of the family,” Jaren Shelby said. “I don’t think so, but they love watching me play from what they say, and I just take that. It builds my confidence.”

Even with all the hardware and accomplishments his father and brothers bring to the table, Jaren Shelby still finds a way to establish himself as a player.

“We’re always talking about it at the dinner table, like, ‘Who’s better?’ or ‘Who can hit the ball the hardest?’” JaVon Shelby said. “But I will give that one to my little brother (Jaren Shelby), he can probably hit the ball the farthest out of our family.”

Going along with what Jaren Shelby’s family thinks of his play, his coach at Tates Creek High School, Larry Poynter, had two words to describe his game: power and speed.

Jaren Shelby displayed his power in his matchup against North Laurel High School his junior year. The outfielder lit up North Laurel’s pitching staff for a grand slam and a three-run home run. Jaren Shelby went 2-for-3 and also had 7 RBI.

Though Jaren Shelby was able to thrive at the plate in high school, coming away with 13 home runs and 45 RBI his junior year for Tates Creek, he will have a big learning curve with the level of play in the SEC.

“Well, I think every high school kid is going to have a transition moving into college baseball,” Poynter said.

Making the transition to college, Jaren Shelby knows that his role will likely change. He just hopes he can help the team in ways like his brother JaVon Shelby switching from second base, where he was an All-SEC player, to third base this season.

“All of the brothers have had one thing in common, and that is they’re all great teammates to whatever teams they play on,” Poynter said.

So after the long wait, the main action for Shelby will shift from the empty field to Cliff Hagan Stadium where he will be able to hear his own name on the loudspeaker.