In the end, it wasn’t about the money for Jack Herman.
It wasn’t about his position in the major-league draft order.
It was about the sport.
“The more I thought about it, the more I asked myself, ‘Why do I play the game of baseball?’ ” Herman said. “I don’t play this game for money. I just love to play baseball.”
Herman, a senior standout at Eastern High School, has decided to sign a professional contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Herman plans to travel to Pittsburgh for his physical on June 18 and sign that day. He said he likely would report immediately to the organization’s training facility in Bradenton, Fla.
Herman has decided to forego a scholarship offer from the University of Maryland.
“It was tough telling my coach [Rob Vaughn] at Maryland,” Herman said. “But the more we talked, the more he understood. He said, ‘You have to follow your heart.’ ”
Herman, a top defensive centerfielder and No. 3 hitter, led Eastern to a 25-6 record, a share of the Olympic Conference’s American Division title, and the program’s second Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic crown in three seasons.
Herman batted .556 as a senior with 14 doubles, six triples and five home runs. He scored 48 runs with 41 RBIs.
Despite his gaudy statistics, Herman wasn’t selected by the Pirates until the 30th round. He had been tabbed as a likely higher-round pick in some draft projections.
“I went a little lower than I expected,” Herman said. “It was a little disappointing, but I didn’t let it bother me too much. All I wanted was an opportunity, and now I have the chance to prove some people wrong.”
Herman said that as part of his contract agreement, the Pirates have agreed to pay for his college education.
Herman finished his high school career as Eastern’s all-time leader in career hits with 146.
“Jack has been everything a coach could ask for in an athlete,” Eastern coach Rob Christ said. “A quality student, tremendous work ethic, coachable, team-oriented, passionate and humble.
“Most kids dream of being a professional athlete, and I am thrilled that Jack will get to live that dream in an outstanding organization which truly develops young talent.”
Herman broke the Vikings’ career hits mark set last season by one of his closest friends, 2017 Eastern graduate Davis Schneider.
“Since we were 7 years old, all we did was play baseball,” Herman said before this season, talking about himself and Schneider. “It was almost like a job for us, but we loved it. We just loved to play baseball.”
Herman is following in Schneider’s footsteps in deciding to pursue his professional dreams right out of high school despite his lower-round draft status.
Schneider, a star third baseman at Eastern, was selected by Toronto in the 28th round of the 2017 draft. He decided to sign with the Blue Jays and forego a scholarship offer from Rutgers.
In his second professional season, Schneider has been assigned to the Bluefield (Va.) Blue Jays, Toronto’s minor-league affiliate in the rookie Appalachian League. That team’s season will start June 19.
“He’s the happiest kid in the world,” Herman said of Schneider. “That’s what I want to be. I want to be happy.”