Jonny Gomes, a Petaluma native, has just been signed to the Oakland Athletics, according to CBS Sports.
The 31-year-old slugger and Casa Grande grad spent two years as an outfielder for the Cincinnati Reds. He will now be the A's designated hitter and extra outfielder, recruited specifically because he hits left-handed pitching well (corrected).
Gomes grew up poor and was initially overlooked when recruiters came to his high school. When he was just 23, Gomes suffered a heart attack, but recovered and was eventually picked up by Tampa Bay.
Now Gomes says his hard-scrabble roots have inspired him to mentor the next generation of players.
"I spent a lot of time searching for someone who is doing what I wanted to do, someone who made it to the highest level of their profession, and there was nothing when I was growing up," he said. "I made a commitment to myself that if I ever make it, I'm going to be an open book for kids and for my hometown."
On Feb. 11, 2006, Petaluma honored Gomes with the Jonny Gomes Day.