Reidsville native Tyler Chilton was recently offered a contract to play professional baseball with the Roswell Invaders, an independent league team in Houston, Texas after wowing scouts at a professional tryout last week.
He was one of just two selected out of more than 80 players that received invitations.
Chilton got invited to the tryout because of a video of him competing in an adult league game where he hit a home run that got posted on a free agent page. A scout from the Pecos League in the American Association saw it and contacted him about three weeks ago and invited him to the tryout this past Friday.
“It’s surreal. It’s incredible. I wish that every person in the world could have this feeling that I have and it still hasn’t even set it yet. It’s incredibly humbling and at the same time incredibly motivating. I’m a very firm believer that if you put your mind to something, whatever that may be — if you trust yourself and stay true to your process, then you can literally do just about anything that you want if you believe in yourself,” he said.
Life threw Chilton a curve
Growing up as a baseball prodigy under the tutelage of his father Ralph Chilton from the time he was a toddler, life threw the boy a wicked curve ball when his father tragically died in a car accident in 2004 when Tyler was just 8 years old.
From that day forward, Chilton said his mother, Laurie Fain Chilton, did everything possible to support her son and his dream of one day of playing professional baseball.
“There is no way I could have done any of this without my mom for sure. She was the one that raised me after my dad passed away. She was the one that took me to the tournaments and she paid for the lessons and everything.”
After competing in youth league baseball in Reidsville, Chilton went on to play at Rockingham County High School from 2009 to 2011 before transferring to Westchester Country Day School in High Point.
As a kid, Chilton took lessons from former Montreal Expos hitting coach Mo Blakeney, and when he took a coaching job at Westchester Country Day School in High Point, Chilton decided to transfer to the private school to play under his mentor.
After high school Chilton went on to play at Western Carolina, but eligibility issues from his high school transfer forced him to leave the Catamount program. From there he ended up at Pitt Community College in Greenville, N.C., but at that point in his life baseball dropped to the bottom of Chilton’s totem pole. After his playing days at Pitt ended, he basically gave up on baseball and entered the work force.
“Even though I went to one of the top junior college programs in the nation — it just kind of put a big damper on me. I just kind of felt like all of the work I had put in my whole life was for nothing. I stopped playing at Pitt and started coaching and working odd jobs. Then one day I said to myself, ‘I can’t do this — I can’t go through life and at least say that I tried to make it to the highest level. So I quit my job and started working out every day — getting into the swing of things,’” Chilton said.
Chilton, who is an assistant coach with the Reidsville Luckies for various youth league teams, has another tryout in Massachusetts in October with a different professional independent league.
If he doesn’t receive any offers after that tryout, he plans to go to Houston for spring training in March.
“I’m a prime example that it is never too late to follow your dreams. Sometimes life knocks you down, but it is really about how you get back up. It might sound cliché, but it’s true because it is what I am going through right now. It’s crazy, two years ago I was working at Albaad driving a fork lift and I never would have dreamed this at all,” Chilton said.
His time away from baseball has taught him some lessons that he wants to share with his community.
“That’s the main thing I really want everyone to understand. Not just baseball players, not just athletes — anyone. If they have got something that they want to do and that they love doing, go for it. I just really want people to know that all it takes is some dedication and a strong work ethic. You’ve just got to stay positive and trust the process. There are going to be times when you are going to doubt yourself and that is okay. It is a natural feeling, but you have to overcome that. It’s never too late and never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something,” Chilton said.