The 2001 Baseball America Prospect Handbook listed Jacob Peavy as the number two prospect in the San Diego Padres organization.1 The report, prepared by scouts, considered him “frail and wild.” That is why he slipped to the 15th round of the 1999 free-agent draft. The Padres selected the 6-foot-1 right-handed pitcher out of St. Paul’s Episcopal School in Mobile, Alabama. There were also concerns regarding Peavy’s commitment to Auburn. He signed with San Diego and by 2001, his fastball, slider, and changeup had propelled him to number two. He made his major-league debut a year later against the New York Yankees. This was just the start of the long up-and-down career of one Jacob Edward Peavy.
Jacob “Jake” Peavy was born on May 31, 1981, in Mobile, Alabama. His parents were Debbie and Donny Peavy. Donny was a carpenter and built cabinets in his backyard shop. Jacob had sports in his blood from an early age. His grandfather, Blanche Peavey, played fast-pitch softball, recorded Jake’s pitching. They would spend hours watching his motion to make improvements. Jake’s grandfather was killed in 1994 in an accident in the family shop. Jake always had his grandfather on his mind when he pitched.
Jake excelled in every sport he played. He also began a lifelong love for the outdoors. As a freshman at St. Paul’s School, he began to excel as a pitcher. He sprouted into a 6-foot-1 frame and began to dominate the competition. His record in high school was 44-1, including a 13-0 state-championship senior season. He had a touch of wildness, but he easily corrected himself to get back on track. Jacob was named the Alabama High School Player of the Year in 1999. Auburn University offered him a full scholarship, which is rare in college baseball. A scout with the San Diego Padres also began to take notice.
The 1999 draft was a mix of stars in waiting and eventual busts. The first pick was Josh Hamilton, by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He would go on to have a decent career with the Texas Rangers after a long bout with substance abuse. The list of first-round draftees is littered with players who did not make it to the majors. The gem of the draft was a 13th-round third baseman from Maple Woods Community College in Missouri, Albert Pujols. He eventually moved to first base, helped guide the St. Louis Cardinals to the 2006 World Series title, and in the twilight of his career was considered an almost certain Hall of Famer.
Jake Peavy made it known he planned to honor his commitment to Auburn unless he was drafted in the first four rounds. A Padres scout begged the club to draft Peavy when he noticed he was still on the board. The Padres didn’t select Peavy until the 15th round, but they offered Peavy a six-figure signing bonus and he signed. Other notables from that draft were Josh Beckett, Shane Victorino, Justin Morneau, Brandon Phillips, and Barry Zito.
Peavy began his pro career with the Rookie Arizona League Padres. He went 7-1 with a 1.34 ERA, pitching in 13 games and striking out 90 in 73⅔ innings. Late in the season he was promoted to the Idaho Falls Chukars of the faster Rookie Pioneer League, where he pitched 11 scoreless innings, striking out 13 and winning two games. He was named to the Arizona League’s postseason all-star team. Baseball America ranked him the number seven prospect in the league.2
Peavy continued his rise through the Padres system in 2000, pitching for the Fort Wayne Wizards in the Class-A Midwest League and posting a 13-8 record against better competition. His ERA was 2.90 with 164 strikeouts in 133⅔ innings. Baseball America ranked him the number seven prospect in the league and the number two prospect in the Padres organization.3 (The publication projected him as the He was projected to be the number three starter in the projected 2004 lineup.4 The scouting report for Peavy heralded him as the best pick from the 1999 draft.
Peavy’s 2001 season started in the high Class-A California League with the Lake Elsinore Storm. He compiled a 7-5 record with a 3.08 ERA. He struck out 144 batters in 105⅓ innings and walked only 33, helping lead the Storm to a 91-49 record and the league co-championship. (All minor-league playoff championships were canceled after the September 11 terrorist attacks. By that time Peavy had been promoted to the Mobile Baybears of the Double-A Southern League.)
For Mobile, Peavy made five starts, winning two and losing one. He posted a 2.57 ERA with 44 strikeouts in 28 innings pitched. He finished the season as the number two overall prospect in the Padres organization, and the number one pitching prospect. He was scheduled to start the 2002 season in Mobile. He spent the offseason helping sell season tickets for the Baybears front office.
Peavy started the 2002 season as the number three prospect in the Padres organization, according to Baseball America.5 He made 14 starts for the Baybears and had to adjust against better competition. He had a 4-5 record with a 2.80 ERA and 89 strikeouts in 80⅓ innings of work. The Padres were suffering from injuries to the pitching staff. They called up Peavy to make his major-league debut on June 22, 2002, against the New York Yankees in San Diego. As it turned out, he was in the majors to stay.
It was 75 degrees at game time, sunny, with winds out to left about 5 mph. Peavy was assigned jersey number 44. It was a Saturday afternoon game with over 60,000 fans in attendance in San Diego. His first batter was second baseman Alfonso Soriano. Soriano lined Peavy’s first pitch into left field for a double. Peavy struck out the next batter, shortstop Derek Jeter, on three pitches. It was the first of Peavy’s 2,207 major-league strikeouts. The next batter, first baseman Jason Giambi, doubled to center field to score Soriano. Giambi attempted to stretch his hit into a triple but was thrown out by Padres center fielder Mark Kotsay. Peavy then got Bernie Williams to ground out to end the first inning. He pitched six innings against the Yankees, giving up one run and three hits, striking out four, and walking two. The Padres hitters could do nothing against Yankees starter Ted Lilly, losing 1-0.
Peavy lost his next two starts, but on July 16, making his fourth start for the Padres, against the Colorado Rockies, he got his first major-league victory, 5-1, pitching seven innings and giving up one run on five hits. Peavy finished his rookie season with a 6-7 record in 17 starts totaling 97⅔ innings and striking out 90 batters. The Padres finished the 2002 season with a last-place finish at 66-96.
Peavy settled in as a member of the Padres rotation. In 2004 he went 15-6 and led the National League with a 2.27 ERA. In 2005 he was named to the National League pitching staff the All-Star Game in Detroit’s Comerica Park. He pitched two-thirds of an inning, coming on in the bottom of the eighth inning. He faced three batters, giving up one hit and striking out one. The American League team prevailed, 7-5.
Before the 2007 season, on January 4, Peavy was involved in an embarrassing incident at the Mobile Regional Airport. He was running late for an early morning flight to the Dominican Republic. He bypassed airline security to check his baggage at the ticket counter. He was arrested for disorderly conduct. The case was dismissed after apologies were made.6
Peavy’s best season as major leaguer was 2007. At the All-Star break he had a 9-3 record, which earned him the starting nod for the midsummer classic at AT&T Park in San Francisco. He pitched one inning, facing four batters and giving up one hit.
The Padres finished the 2007 season with an 89-74 record and in third place under manager Bud Black. Peavy had a career-best 19 wins with 6 losses, a 2.54 ERA, and 240 strikeouts in 223⅓ innings while only walking 68 batters. He led the National League in wins, ERA, strikeouts, and WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched). He was the unanimous winner of the Cy Young Award, the fourth Padres pitcher to win the award.
Peavy had a reversal of form in 2008, winning 10 games and losing 11, though his ERA remained good at 2.85. In 2009, he landed on the disabled list on June 16 with a tendon tear in his right ankle. He was sidelined for 2½ months. With the Padres mired in another losing season, the club chose to free up what was left of Peavy’s $11 million salary, and at the July 31 trade deadline he was traded to the Chicago White Sox for four players. The Padres had a 41-62 record at the time the trade was made. He was going to a White Sox team with a 53-51 record and needing pitching for the stretch run. After a stay at Triple-A Charlotte, he made his first start for the White Sox on September 19, lasting five innings and winning 13-3. By that time the White Sox were out of playoff contention. Peavy finished the season with two more wins for a 3-0 record. (He had been 6-6 with the Padres.)
Peavy had modest success with the White Sox. He was selected to the 2012 All-Star game in Kansas City. He had a 7-5 record but did not make an appearance in the game. In July 2013 the Boston Red Sox were in the middle of their playoff run when they acquired the right-hander in a trade deadline three-team deal. Peavy was 4-1 in 10 starts as the Red Sox advanced to the World Series. He started Game Three against the Cardinals. He pitched four innings, giving up six hits and two runs, and got a no-decision. That was his only appearance as the Red Sox won the Series.
Peavy started the 2014 season with the Red Sox but was traded to the San Francisco Giants in yet another July deadline trade. He won six games for the Giants over the final two months of the season and found himself again with a team that earned a berth in the World Series. Peavy started Game Two of the 2014 World Series against the Kansas City Royals. He pitched five innings, giving up six hits and four runs, and was charged with the Giants’ 7-2 defeat. Getting another start in Game Six, he did not have a great outing. He lasted only 1⅓ innings, giving up six hits and five runs in a 10-0 loss to the Royals. His teammates bailed him out, though, defeating the Royals in seven games.
Peavy finished out his contract with the Giants in 2016. That was his last season the majors. He was not tendered a contract by a team for the 2017 season. He finished his career with 152 wins and 126 losses and a 3.63 ERA He was a three-time All-Star with two World Series rings, a Gold Glove (with the White Sox in 2012), and the 2007 Cy Young Award.
Peavy pitched in the postseason four times. He appeared two times for the Padres, in the Division Series in 2005 and 2006, and lost both his starts. In 2013 with the Red Sox he lost a game in the ALCS and had no decision in his other two starts, not lasting past the sixth inning in any of his three appearances. Peavy’s final trip to the postseason was in 2014 with the Giants. He made two starts in the playoffs and two starts in the World Series, losing three of his four starts, with one no-decision. His career postseason record is one win and five losses. He was not able to match his regular-season success in the postseason. However, he was part of three deadline trades and helped two of his new teams reach the postseason.
Peavy went home to Southern Falls, his 5,000-acre plantation deep in the woods of Selma, Alabama. Southern Falls is open to guests for all occasions. Southern Falls has a wide range of activities including a bowling alley, an arcade, a live music stage, and a saloon. Groups can hunt on the forests, ride the trails, or explore the falls.7 One of his prized possessions is one of the duck boats used in the 2013 World Series parade in Boston. He liked the boat so much that he purchased it the day of the parade. He also made headlines for purchasing a cigar-store Indian while on a trip to San Francisco. He said, “I was walking to the field on the day of my start and walked past a smoke shop, a tobacco/liquor store. And I’m Indian, my heritage is American Indian. And I walked by and saw just in the glass window this fellow looking at me.”8
Peavy earned an estimated $127,155,000 in his 15-year major-league career. By all accounts, he was set for life. On the surface, Peavy was going to be able to enjoy life after baseball, with his family on his plantation, and watch his four sons grow up. Then life threw him a curveball.
Prior to opening training camp in 2016 with the Giants, he learned that his lifelong friend and trusted financial adviser had been running a “Ponzi scheme” with his money. According to court documents filed by the United States of America against Ash Narayan, the Securities and Exchange Commission laid out their case number 3:16-cv-1417-M. The SEC alleged Mr. Narayan received more than $1.5 million in over directing over $30 million in investments from Roy Oswalt, Peavy, and NFL player Mark Sanchez. The original complaint was filed with the SEC on February 8, 2017.9 Mr. Narayan submitted an offer of settlement without admitting or denying the allegations against him. He was suspended from appearing or practicing as an attorney or accountant with the SEC. Basically he was banned from trading or investing for himself or for clients. The SEC filed an amended action against Mr. Narayan on April 1, 2018 adding fraud to the complaint. The amended complaint alleges how Mr. Narayan defrauded the three players, siphoning funds from the investment account for his personal use. The complaint also alleges how Mr. Narayan performed trades and opened accounts in his clients names without their consent. According to the court documents, Peavy lost his investment of $15,105,000 along with $957,432 in fees.10 As of this writing in October 2018, Mr. Narayan has not been put on trial for his alleged crimes.
Then Peavy’s wife, Katie, filed for divorce. Peavy decided to put his professional career on hold to get his family house in order. He was awarded joint custody of his sons.11
As of 2018 Peavy lived in Mobile and was content to watch his sons grow up and play sports at St. Paul’s Episcopal School, where Peavy was inducted in the school’s Hall of Fame in 1999. He still tended to Southern Falls. A few years may not have been the best, but he summed it up in a song he wrote called “Keep on Smiling.”12
Last revised: March 1, 2019
In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author also consulted Baseball-Reference.com.
1 Jim Callis, Baseball America 2001 Prospect Handbook (Durham, North Carolina: Simon and Schuster, 2001), 354.
2 Allen Simpson, Baseball America 2000 Almanac (Durham, North Carolina: Simon and Schuster, 1999), 298.
3 Baseball America 2001 Almanac, 296-97; Callis, 350-354.
4 Baseball America viewed him as the number three starter in the projected Padres 2004 starter rotation. Callis, 350-354.
5 Callis, 374-78.
6 Tom Krasovic, “Wiser Peavy Has Learned Major Lesson in Discretion,” San-Diego Union-Tribune, February 17, 2007. legacy.sandiegouniontribune.com/uniontrib/20070217/news_1s17sullivan.html
8 Matthew T. Hall, “Jake Peavy Bought His World Series Parade Duck Boat,” sandiegouniontribune.com, November 3, 2013, https://sandiegouniontribune.com/opinion/the-conversation/sdut-jake-peavy-duck-boat-world-series-parade-reaction-2013nov03-htmlstory.html; https://boston.com/sports/extra-bases/2013/10/07/jake_peavy_tells_the_mostly_true_story_of_the_luck.
11 Scott Miller, “I Need a Miracle Every Day,” Bleacherreport.com, February 14, 2018. bleacherreport.com/articles/2756799-i-need-a-miracle-every-day-jake-peavy-picks-up-pieces-of-a-shattered-life.
12 Mark Inabinett, “7 Questions with Cy Young Award Winner Jake Peavy,” al.com, March 15, 2018. al.com/sports/index.ssf/2018/03/7_questions_with_cy_young_awar.html.