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2008 NBC Graduate of the Year Joba Chamberlain

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 Chamberlain pitches for Beatrice BruinsFignting for the chance just to make the trip to the NBC World Series, Beatrice turned to a young 18 year old pitcher fresh from American Legion Ball.  In a must win game, Joba Chamberlain threw a complete game, 3-hitter to tave off elimination for another night.  That elimination did come as Beatrice fell to the Clarinda A's but Joba Chamberlain had made his mark in big games and would return to center stage.

Pitching for Nebraska in 2005, Joba Chamberlain took his game to the next level winning 10 of his 18 starts and losing just twice.  With a mid-90's fastball and two breaking pitches, Joba helped the Huskers to an outstanding 57-15 record and helped lead the Huskers to the 2005 College World Series.  Joba also pitched in Nebraska's first College World Series victory.

Returning to Beatrice for the 2005 summer, Joba started just 6 games but recorded a 5-0 record along with an outstanding 1.59 ERA.  Though triceps tendinitis limited his 2006 season, he still pitched in 14 games for the Huskers, posting a 6-5 record with 102 strikeouts in just 89.1 innings pitched.

In June of 2006, Joba Chamberlain was named the 41st selection in the Major League Free Agent Draft, selected by the most storied of baseball franchises, the New York Yankees.  Joba didn't pitchi in the organized minors during the 2006 season but dominated the winter league in Hawaii, posting a 2.63 ERA for the West Oahu Canefires.  Before the 2007 season, Baseball America ranked Chamberlain as the 45h-best prospect in the pitching-rich Yankee organization, and the 75th best prospect in Major League Baseball, and ranked his fastball as the best in the Yankee farm system.

The 2007 season would find Joba pitching at four different levels of professional baseball.  he spent the first part of his 2007 season on the A-Advanced Tampa Yankees in the Florida State League.  he went 4-0 with a 2.03 ERA in 7 games, and had 51 strikeouts and 11 walks.  He was then promoted to the AA Trenton Thunder in the Eastern League, where he was 4-2 in 7 games with a 3.43 ERA and 64 strikeouts.  He was named to the U.S. Team in the 2007 All-Star Futures Game, July 8 at AT&T Park.  Chamberlain pitched the thrid inning, striking out one, walking one, and allowing a hit and an earned run.

On July 24, 2207, Chamberlain was promoted to AAA Scranton-Wilkes Barre, and made his first start the next day, striking out 10 in 5 innings and earning his first AAA victory.  While the Yankees still saw his as a starter in the future, the team announced on July 29, 2007, that Chamberlain would be moved to the Scranton-Wilkes Barre bullpen, and he made his first appearance the next day, striking out the side in 1 inning pitched and hitting 100 MPH on the radar gun three times.  On August 1st, Joba went back to Trenton to make a relief appearance, striking out 2 batters in a 1-2-3 8th inning.  He then came back to Scranton, pitching 2 innings and striking out 5 batters.

Then the Yankees came calling.Joba Chamberlain (NY Yankees)

On August 7, 2007, the Yankees purchased Chamberlain's contract, elevating him to the major leagues for the first time in his career.  In his debut, a Yankees victory over the Toronto Blue Jays, Chamberlain struck out the first batter he faced and went on to pitch two scoreless innings, striking out two.  The television and stadium radar guns clocked his fastest pitches at 100 and 99 miles per hour, respectively, with his slider consistently registering 87.

Chamberlain's usuage in games was initially restricted by what were referred to as "Joba Rules," which prevented him from pitching on consecutive days and gave him an additional day of rest for each inning pitched in an outing.  On august 30, 2007, Chamberlain threw two pitches over the head of Boston's Kevin Youkilis.  Chamberlain was subsequently ejected for the first time in his baseball career. The next day, he was suspended for two games and fined $1,000 for the incident.

When Chamberlain takes the mound, he begins with a private prayer ritual which he bagan doing in Little League.  The Yankee Stadium scoreboard staff plays Motley Crue's "Shout at the Devil" whenever Chamberlain enters a game.

Chamberlain had an extraordinary experience when he was "bugged" in game 2 of the 2007 ALDS against the Cleveland Indians.  The game took place at jacobs Field (in Cleveland) on October 5.  With the Yankees leading 1-0, Chamberlain was pitching in the bottom of the eighth when a host of small insects swarmed the field.  He was repeatedly sprayed down with insecticide, which had no apparent deterrent effect on the midges.  Chamberlain then threw a wild pitch, permitting Grady Sizemore to advance from first to second base.  After a sacrifice bunt, Sizemore moved up to third base and, after another wild pitch by Chamberlain, Sizemore scored the tying run.  The Indians went on to win the game 2-1.

on October 14, Hank Steinbrenner announced that chamberlain would begin 2008 Spring Training as a starting pitcher but will limit his innings.  On March 20, 2008, the Yankees announced that Chamberlain would start the season in the bullpen.  Manager Joe Girardi stated that Chamberlain would be used 'without restrictions' but that the team's use of Chamberlain would be guided by common sense.

Chamberlain was granted a leave of absence on April 13, 2008, when he received news that his father, Harlan, was in the hospital after collapsing at his home in Lincoln, Nebraska.  At the time of his leave, Joba had a record of 1-0, with a 0.00 ERA and six strikeouts, and has 3 holds in 4 games and 5.1 innings pitched.  Chamberlain returned from bereavement in time for the second game against the Baltimore Orioles on April 19, 2008.

On April 20, Hank Steinbrenner announced that he wanted Chamberlain to be moved into the starting rotation.  On May 6, Chamberlain gave up a three run home run to David Dellucci to give up the lead to the Indians in the eighth inning.  This was the first time he had given up a run at Yankee Stadium in over 15 innings in the regular season.  On May 21, Chamberlain threw two scoreless innings and 35 pitches in an 8-0 victory against the Orioles.

After the game Manager Joe Girardi announced that this was the beginning of a process to transition Chamberlain into the Yankee's starting rotation, and that he will be a member of the starting rotation at some point during the 2008 season.

On June 3, Chamberlain made his first MLB start against Roy Halladay and the Toronto Blue Jays and lasted only 2.1 innings while allowing 2 runs, a hit and 4 walks.  On June 25, Chamberlain earned his first career win as a starter, throwing 6.2 scoreless innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates, en route to a 10-0 Yankee victory.

Joba Chamberlain - from modest beginnings all the way to New York, New York - has attained success on the largest of stages and has just scratched the surface of all that he will achieve on the National Stage.  And it all started as an 18 year old kid pitching in front of a couple of hundred fans in Clarinda, Iowa.

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