Growing up in Brenham, a picturesque, baseball-crazy town that also happens to be home to Blue Bell Ice Cream, Jon Peters never had a bad day.
Especially in high school, where he set a national record for consecutive pitching wins on the mound, found himself on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine and dated the prettiest girl in school.
It was a perfect life.
Except when it wasn’t.
“I was trying to be someone or something for everyone else. I was hiding everything,” Peters said by phone recently.
What was Peters hiding?
For starters, he wasn’t supposed to be alive the day he set the national record by running his record to 51-0. Before he went to bed the night before the big game, he swallowed every pill in a bottle of Tylenol – hoping to put an end to a life that from the outside looked perfect.
Peters, who shared his struggles in a book “When Life Grabs You by the Baseballs,” (available on Amazon.com) is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at Longview’s Maude Cobb Convention and Activity Center on May 21 at the fifth annual Best Preps Awards Program.
The event will honored student/athletes from the combined coverage areas of the Longview News-Journal, Marshall News Messenger and Panola Watchman and is sponsored by Peters Chevrolet-Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Ram-Fiat.
“I want to encourage the students to dream big and encourage them to never give up, but the main thing is to be true to themselves,” said Peters.
Peters finished with a 54-1 record as a pitcher at Brenham High School, helping the team win three straight Class 4A state championships. He went to Texas A&M on a partial scholarship, but never pitched for the Aggies due to injuries.
He later transferred to Blinn, a junior college located in his hometown of Brenham, where he went 1-1 before suffering an injury that ended his playing days.
When his lifelong dream of playing baseball ended, real life took over and it wasn’t always pleasant.
Peters earned degrees at Texas A&M and Sam Houston state. He got a real job, got married, had kids. But, alcohol became a bigger part of his life. He divorced, and later tried to kill himself again, this time by drinking vodka for 16 straight hours.
In recent stories about his life, chronicled in his book, Peters said at his lowest point he heard a voice telling him, “Jon. It’s OK. Just tell somebody.”
And, that’s part of the message he plans to deliver in East Texas on May 21.
“Everyone is going through something, and I hid it. Once I reached out for help and was real with people, that’s when things got better. We all go through things. We’re all broken in some ways. Get real with folks. It’s been very rewarding for me to be able to help others.”
As well as traveling to promote his book and doing gigs as a motivational speaker, Peters works in construction management in the oil and gas industry.
For information about tickets for the Best Preps Awards Program, contact Gai Bennett: (903) 237-7206.