ST. LOUIS – When the Major League Baseball All-Star Game gets underway on July 19, the National League roster will include a Cherokee Nation citizen.St. Louis Cardinals right-handed pitcher Ryan Helsley is in the All-Star Game for the first time since he made his Major League debut in April 2019. The game will be played at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.Speaking to the Cardinals organization, Helsley mused on his transition from a four-sport athlete at Sequoyah High School in Tahlequah and pitcher at Northeastern State University to a Major League All-Star.“I might be the first one (to make an MLB All-Star Game),” Helsley said, referring to his hometown of Tahlequah. “I was just talking to one of our trainers as I was getting some treatment and he said, ‘Don’t forget to look back and appreciate where you’re at now.’ That’s so hard to do in our game because every day it’s bam, bam, bam (with games), and you try to just focus on one thing at a time. To be able to sit back now and really cherish the ride, it’s awesome.”
Helsley seems fully recovered after surgery on his left knee in the off-season, appearing in 29 games during 2022 with a 0.73 ERA through 37 innings. Now the go-to closer for the Cardinals, he is 5-1 with seven saves in 10 chances, and has allowed 13 hits and 12 walks against 54 strikeouts. Batters are hitting .107 against him.For Helsley, the repertoire is mainly fastball – his out pitch – and slider, with an occasional curveball. He also has a rare changeup that he has thrown just four times this season. Even less sighted is his sinker, which he hasn’t thrown at all in 2022. His fastball velocity has increased over his career. One of his heaters against the Arizona Diamondbacks was clocked at 103 mph.
Helsley was picked up by the Cardinals in the fifth round of the 2015 draft, with the 161st pick overall, after excelling as a pitcher for NSU. After the draft, he made various minor league stops on teams such as the Johnson City Cardinals, Peoria Chiefs, Palm Beach Cardinals, the Springfield Cardinals and Memphis Redbirds. Helsley also excelled in four sports while attending Sequoyah High School. He played baseball, basketball, football and even participated in track when his schedule allowed it.“I loved my high school experience,” he said. “I had amazing coaches and teachers who helped shape and mold me. Honestly, I wanted to play football coming out of high school but got offered to play baseball at NSU and decided I couldn’t pass that up,” Helsley said in a 2021 interview.