June 27, 2014 AUGUSTA, GA-- Survey the scene at any GreenJackets home game. You're sure to see Mr and Mrs. Smith. They don't miss a game--whether their son, number 35, notices or not.
"He doesn't look for us. Like "hey mom and hey dad,'" Ken Smith said.
"He knows we're here though. He did at first, at least," Angie Smith added.
From the first pitch, growing up in North Augusta, Angie and Ken Smith rarely missed their son's games. Now, they don't have to worry about it.
Jake has become a hometown hero as a reliever for the Augusta GreenJackets. While his parents get to see every pitch.
"This is a special deal for us, but I think it's more special for him...to be able to come home to the place that he started," Ken said.
How Jake started with the Giants organization is nothing short of amazing.
Jake worked on grounds crew for no pay, only working for an opportunity. The opportunity came in the form of a bullpen session with Jackets pitching coach, Steve Kline.
"(Kline's) the one that asked him. He was a groundskeeper here. He asked him if he wanted to throw. He threw and he was impressed, so it all just kind of worked out," Ken said.
Indeed. It worked out well for both parties. Jake is still living under their roof-- no bills and no rent. Ken and Angie take in some more of his games.
However, if they have it their way, he won't stay long.
"Everyone wants to make it, but I think he feels blessed every level he goes up," Angie said.
"(Baseball) was something we did together for so long. It was hard for me to let go of that piece of it too. It truly is a blessing to be a part of it again," Ken said.
Jake has been one of the top relievers out of the Jackets pen, seeing action in 29 games this season.
Jake's parents don't travel to away games. This weekend, they'll have to get their updates in another form as Augusta heads to Lexington.