Ceres High School has had just one baseball player get selected in the MLB Draft in the last 42 years.
“It’s very humbling,” said Caleb Maher, who was a ninth-round pick of the Anaheim Angels in 2002.
Maher, 37, talked about the past, present and future while being interviewed by the Courier on Monday.
“I would have loved to play in the MLB,” said Maher, who will celebrate his 10th anniversary working as a Wealth Management Advisor for U.S. Bancorps Investments in Modesto next April. “That was my goal. I wanted to have one at-bat. At the end of the day, I wouldn’t change anything. I wouldn’t have met my wife (Melissa). We wouldn’t have had our daughter (Rian). I’m blessed.”
Maher retired from baseball in 2006.
“I didn’t want to be that 40-year-old playing minor-league baseball. Coming home was the hardest thing ever. I gave so much to the sport. Then it was over.”Caleb Maher
“I didn’t want to be that 40-year-old playing minor-league baseball,” he said. “Coming home was the hardest thing ever. I gave so much to the sport. Then it was over. I didn’t want anything to do with baseball for a couple years. It (the experience) made me stronger. It made me who I am. I had to turn the page and move on.”
Maher spent three seasons in the Angels’ minor-league farm system.
He logged playing time at first base and in the outfield while suiting up for teams in Arizona, California, Iowa and Utah.
“I never played minor-league baseball,” he said. “It was new to me. It was a job. You had to perform. You’re playing and see all of these other guys pass you up. It was stressful to a degree. I was good at hitting off-speed pitches. My downfall was fastballs.”
Maher opened the 2004 season with the Cedar Rapids Kernels, a Low-A affiliate in the Midwest League, in Iowa. He was reassigned to Provo, a Rookie-Level affiliate in Orem, Utah, after batting .201 and striking out 45 times in 38 games.
Maher competed in 50 games, mostly at designated hitter, with Provo, which won the Pioneer League Championship Series. He batted .316 with six homers, one triple, 12 doubles, 36 runs and 36 RBIs during the regular season.
Maher played for Cedar Rapids in 2003. In 92 games, he had a .233 batting average with seven homers, three triples, 13 doubles, 36 runs and 46 RBIs.
In 48 games with Mesa, a Rookie-A affiliate in Arizona, in 2002, Maher hit .299 with two homers, 11 doubles, two triples, 22 runs and 31 RBIs.
At the end of the year, Maher got promoted to High-A Rancho Cucamonga in the California League. Maher collected a double and three singles at John Thurman Field in Modesto.
“Seeing family and friends there was cool,” he said. “I take my daughter to Nuts all the time.”
Maher spent the final two years of his playing career in the Golden Baseball League.
He batted .287 with 11 homers, four triples, 21 doubles, 64 RBIs and 50 runs in 83 games for the Mesa Miners in 2005.
In 24 games with the Reno Silver Sox in 2006, Maher hit .233 with one homer, six doubles, 13 RBIs and 14 runs.
“I had the most fun playing independent ball,” he said. “There’s less stress.”
Maher competed against MLB Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson, who played for the Golden Baseball League’s San Diego Surf Dawgs in 2005.
“I was playing first base and he lined a single up the middle,” Maher stated. “He looked at me and said Rickey is going to steal. And he did standing up. He was in great shape. His legs were like tree trunks.”
Maher was ranked as one of the top 50 high school baseball players in California during his final season at Ceres High.
Ron Maher, Caleb’s father, played a big role in his development.
“We’d go down to Rainbow Fields every night senior year,” Caleb said. “I’d hit off the tee. My dad would do soft toss. He was hard on me but didn’t push me over the edge. He taught me to love the sport.”
Using dial-up Internet, Maher and his family followed the 2002 Draft on their home computer.
“The Giants said they were going to draft me in the fifth round,” stated Maher, a lifelong San Francisco fan. “The fifth round came and they didn’t. I left the room and went to take a nap. Then I heard my dad yelling. I remember how proud he was. I was fortunate to play after high school. The Angels gave me an opportunity. They believed in me. I had so many great coaches. I got to learn so much. I got to travel the country. No hard feelings. At the end of the day, it’s a business.”
Maher has worked as a financial advisor for the past 13 years.
His office is located in downtown Modesto.
“I always knew I’d go back to school when I was done with baseball,” he said. “I got my bachelor’s in business and finance from Humphreys College in Stockton. The position I’m in now, I cover nine different locations. I really enjoy what I do. I help clients reach their goals.”
Maher will begin his third season as an assistant coach with Big Valley Christian High School’s varsity baseball team this spring.
He previously helped coach youth baseball for five years.
Maher was an assistant coach for Beyer High School’s junior-varsity boys basketball team for one season.
“I enjoy being out there,” he said. “I want to give back. Seeing the kids work hard and succeed is the most enjoyable part. I don’t bring it (my past) up. The other coaches do. I’m pretty humble.”
Caleb and his wife Melissa got married in October of 2014. She currently fills the activities director position at Beyer. Daughter Rian is 41/2 years old.
“It’s a blessing having a daughter,” Maher said. “My daughter has a wonderful mother. She pushes me to be the best I can be.”