“I had my baseball journey and now I am helping others showcase theirs”: A Conversation with Chase d’Arnaud
By Ryan Simpson
“I had my baseball journey and now I’m helping others showcase theirs”
Chase d’Arnaud’s baseball journey took him all over the country. Born in Torrance, California, Chase was drafted in the 44th round by the hometown Los Angeles Dodgers in 2005.
“I wasn’t in one of those positions to know which team I would be drafted by. Of course, I would love to be local and be with a California team.”
He did not sign with the Dodgers out of high school though, instead opting to go to college at Pepperdine University in nearby Malibu.
Pepperdine had produced MLB players such as Dan Haren, Randy Wolf and 1986 NL Cy Young Winner Mike Scott. d’Arnaud went off his freshman year being selected as a first-team all-conference player as well as a freshman All-American nationally in 2006. At the end of his junior year, he had amassed 163 games, 16 home runs, 100 RBI to go along with a .309 batting average. Pittsburgh took notice of the California kid and selected him in the 4th round of the 2008 MLB draft: “I was still elated and so grateful for the opportunity to go and play professional baseball. I didn’t know what to expect in the minor leagues. I was looking forward to being able to focus solely on baseball.”
d’Arnaud traveled through the minor league system of the Pirates for three years and then “the call” came; “I knew how low the odds were in terms of players getting drafted and then being called up; I just wanted to embrace that journey.” The Boston Red Sox were making a rare trip to PNC Park in 2011 when d’Arnaud was called up. Boston was a powerhouse with names like Ellsbury, Pedroia and Youkilis. His first Major League hit came on a 2-1 pitch from ace Jon Lester in the fifth inning in which he ripped down the left-field line for a triple.
The Pirates saw what they were getting with the versatile d’Arnaud as he played all over the infield in his rookie year. In 2012, d’Arnaud spent half of the year with the big-league club and the other half in Indianapolis. In 2013 he spent most of his season in Indy with the Triple A club as the Bucs had a full infield with Neil Walker, Clint Barmes and fellow 2008 draftee Pedro Alvarez. A final call up to the Pirates in 2014 marked the end for d’Arnaud’s time in Pittsburgh after only playing in 64 games.
His time as a “journeyman” was just starting. After Pittsburgh granted d’Arnaud free agency in the offseason, he signed with the Phillies where he played alongside veterans Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Cole Hamels. After one month on the big league roster in Philly, it was off to Atlanta in 2016.
Atlanta was Chase’s longest tenured team in terms of games (95 of 236). Recording two of his three career walk-offs almost a month apart from each other, things looked like they were taking a turn for better. Still only 29 years old, maybe being a Brave was where d’Arnaud would be able to call home for the future. Sadly, that is not how the baseball gods function…
After just 11 games in 2017, the Braves placed d’Arnaud on waivers. The team that he made his MLB debut against must have remembered the name because Boston came calling. This is where d’Arnaud got to see one of the best in baseball up close and personal: Mookie Betts.
“One day [I approached him] and said ‘Mook, you are really good and being able to watch what you [do] is really special. He [Mookie] replied with, ‘nah…nah…’ just because he is a super humble dude, but so confident.”
d’Arnaud bounced from the BoSox to the Padres to round out the 2017 campaign, appearing in 22 games. Now at age 30, he was in what was supposed to be the prime of his career, but he had now had service time with 5 MLB teams and 8 minor league teams. What was next?
The 2018 season was spent in the San Francisco system, splitting time between AAA and the majors once again. The Rangers tossed him a contract with a Spring Training invite for the 2019 season only to be released in June. The Royals picked d’Arnaud up three days later and then released him at season’s end.
The cycle was starting over again: another off-season, another “prove yourself” contract in hopes to get back to the show full-time. It was time to make a decision on his terms. On February 17th, 2020 Chase d’Arnaud announced via his Instagram account and YouTube channel that he was retiring from baseball:
What was next? Chase already had a plan.
“I always loved the arts. Photography was something I was always passionate about. I didn’t get into video content until 2016 while I was in a band…I realized the power of video content,” he said. “I became very good friends with our video editor and would sit next to him while he edited footage. I instantly fell in love with storytelling through film.”
At the end of 2018, d’Arnaud went all-in, betting on himself and started a new journey. He created the “d’Arnaud Media Group” where he directs, edits, produces and shoots all of his content. He recently helped Adam Jones document his recent move to Japan in the Nippon Professional Baseball League. The “Journeyman Series” is one of my favorites series I have ever watched on YouTube; described as: “diving into the life choices, sacrifices, struggles, beauty, romance, glory and injustices of pursuing a career in the big leagues.” These are the guys who you see on your team year-in and year-out, but are not the superstars. They did not get called up to the major-league roster because they are the best athlete or the most marketable player; these journeymen get their moment in the MLB because of their grit and love for baseball.
I asked Chase his opinion about how the landscape of media and content has shifted the perspective of baseball players.
“It was necessary. We want baseball to remain relevant. We want baseball’s youth to be into the sport. It has changed the way the game can grow.”
This is why Chase d’Arnaud was able to stay in the ranks of the MLB for so long: he gets it. It’s as simple as that. He knew what he needed to do on the field to earn a contract and he did it. In his new career, he knows that baseball needs to grow in the media world and wants to put players’ voices out there. He wants to show the world that there are guys grinding day in and day out who are never mentioned on ESPN or in your local TV station’s sports report. Chase’s Instagram bio puts it simply: “I had my own baseball journey, now I am helping others showcase theirs.”
If you take one thing away from this article, let it be this: bet on yourself. Chase d’Arnaud was drafted out of high school and bet on himself to go to college, improving his draft stock with a successful collegiate career. Chase bet on himself throughout his MLB career that he was doing the job the right way and knowing time would come. Before his baseball career was over, he set up his next venture in his media group.
I want to thank Chase again for his time. I took a leap of faith in betting on myself in contacting Chase to see if he would even talk to me and we talked for almost an hour. The guy is an absolute class act. Here are links to all of Chase’s social media along with links to his content:
Chase d’Arnaud Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/chasedarnaud/?hl=en
Chase d’Arnaud Twitter: https://twitter.com/chasedarnaud
YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsZINYLcqVt8m-6AgpadYkw
Ballplayers Like Us: https://www.youtube.com/playlist? list=PLhl1Qqu_ZxTCm1RX7EkbAvxtCouXSX_Pp
Journeyman Series Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5xII1gFdlffLX9CKMVy3KA