Cale Iorg was where every high school baseball player wants to be.
In the spring of 2004, Iorg had scholarship offers from some of the top college baseball programs in the country. Pro scouts wanted to discuss signing bonuses. The future looked very bright for the star shortstop.
A prolonged career in the majors appealed to Iorg, but he wanted to wear another uniform first. He wanted to serve a Mormon mission.
They tried to talk him out of it.
The University of Texas said play for three years, then serve the Lord.
Members of the Minnesota Twins organization said if Iorg would forget the mission, the Twins would take him with one of their three first-round picks.
Tampa Bay presented the best deal of all after the Rays selected Iorg in the 16th round of the MLB draft, offering a $400,000 signing bonus and saying he could serve his mission.
Iorg turned them all down. He played for a year at the University of Alabama before eventually boarding a flight for Lisbon, Portugal.
Now four years after completing his mission, Iorg is living his dream. He is a happily married husband and father. He also plays shortstop for the Toledo Mud Hens, the Triple-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers.
And he has a message for other young baseball players who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“Guys seem to think that if they serve a mission they are going to lose their opportunity (to play baseball)," Iorg said from his hotel in Rochester, N.Y., hours before a game. "They say, ‘I can do a mission later in life.’ It’s difficult for me to hear that because the mission was so awesome for me.
“Sometimes you have to let go and trust the Lord will look out for you. Answer the call, and your life will be better for it. I have had baseball in my life, but I am not even talking about that. Because of the person I have become after my mission, life is truly a whole lot better than I ever could have imagined.”
Baseball runs in Cale's blood.
He is the son of Garth Iorg, who played 10 years with the Toronto Blue Jays and is currently the infield coach for the Milwaukee Brewers. Cale’s uncle Dane was the first-round pick of the Philadelphia Phillies in 1971, and his ability to swing the bat helped the St. Louis Cardinals win the 1982 World Series.
Raised in Knoxville, Tenn., Cale and his older brothers, Isaac and Eli, grew up in minor and major league clubhouses where their father played or coached.
The Iorg boys were also taught to keep the commandments and love the Lord.
Garth’s parents were less active in the LDS Church growing up, but the family was reactivated when Garth’s older brothers Dane and Lee played baseball at BYU. Another blessing came when Garth began dating his future wife, Patty, who was Catholic. Patty investigated the church and was baptized.
“Mom is as strong in her testimony as they come," Cale said. "Mom told dad if he wasn’t 100 percent committed to the church she wasn’t going to marry him. With dad coaching and gone a lot, credit goes to mom for never taking a Sunday off while raising us.”
Serving a mission was not mandatory for the Iorg brothers: “It was something they had to choose for themselves,” Patty said. But when possible, the full-time missionaries were invited to the Iorg home for dinner, and Patty said young Cale first warmed to the idea of serving a mission when the elders informed him the church’s missionary training center provided all-you-can-eat cereal.
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