Sports, Springfield

Drifting into the spotlight: Pitcher, river guide for now; orthopedic surgeon next?

SPRINGFIELD – With all-time classic songs such as “Under the Boardwalk,” “Stand By Me,” and “This Magic Moment,” the Drifters have produced some of the most timeless R&B music ever made.

John Over has produced a few magic moments himself with the Springfield Drifters, being one of their most reliable relief pitchers. Not only that, he’s a drifter even before he gets to the ballpark – having started his own company, the Over The River guide service, where he takes clients out on the water to go fi shing and enjoy Oregon’s beautiful rivers and scenery.

“I was on the water for six hours today before I got to the park,” Over said after pitching two scoreless innings in Thursday’s 10-6 loss to Corvallis, lowering his team-best ERA to 1.74. “I didn’t think I was going to pitch today – I showed up late for (batting practice).”

Now in his third year as a river guide, Over recently partnered with the Irish Fishing Club and is doing raffl es to help them out. The IFC is a program started in part by former UO quarterback Justin Herbert while he attended Sheldon High.

“The aim is to get kids outside,” he said. “Too many kids are sitting around playing video games all day. We need to change that.”

Over is a Eugene native who graduated from Marist and has one more season of eligibility left at Linfi eld University after this year. But for now, he’s enjoying his favorite time of the year.

“I live my life for the summer,” the 6-foot-2 left-hander said. “Whether it’s hiking, kayaking, camping, even riding horses. But fly fishing for trout is my favorite thing to do.”

Still, when it comes to his lifelong goals, he has much bigger fish to fry.

“The plan is to go to medical school,” said Over, whose father, Larry, has been a dentist in Eugene for more than 30 years. “I had Tommy John surgery right out of high school, and I didn’t know if I’d ever pitch again. I’m super fortunate to be playing college baseball again.

“I want to be an orthopedic surgeon, either sports medicine, where I’d repair ACLs and Tommy Johns, or hip and knee replacements. I’m good friends with Brian Jewitt at Slocum. I’ve shadowed him. He’s a miracle worker and such a humble guy. And that’s what it’s about, bringing people from rock-bottom back to what they love again.”

Jewitt is a world-renowned orthopedist in Eugene. Drifters head coach Tommy Richards said players like Over are one of the reasons he loves his job.

“No doubt, you don’t get into coaching for the money. You do it for the relationships, and meeting guys like John Over, and we have a lot of good guys on this team. Johnny’s a high-character guy – we tell our guys, it’s not how you do one thing, it’s how you do everything, it’s attention to detail, work ethic, and everything he does. You watch him warm up, he has a plan.

“He’s a very thoughtful guy, he’s got a routine, he knows what he likes to do, and we love him.

“Johnny’s one of those guys, he did a good job tonight, being a bullpen guy, it’s a unique role, it takes mental fortitude – you have to be at your best no matter what the situation is, and it takes a special guy to do that.

“We were joking with John Over – not this outing, but the outing before this, all of his outings he was coming in with the bases loaded, and his last outing he came in to start an inning, and we said, ‘Man, how does it feel to come in without the bases loaded?’”

Over said he doesn’t foresee himself being a future closer, although it would be cool to hear the announcers say, “It’s never over till it’s Over.”

“I need to be 90-plus (on the radar gun) to be a closer, so I don’t see that happening,” said Over, who said he hasn’t topped 88 mph. “But my specialty is mixing speeds and locating pitches. I’m a crafty lefty.”

Whatever his role is, the Drifters can still count on him for more magic moments.

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