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Valley boy: D-backs’ Kole Calhoun embraces being face of Buckeye

Kole Calhoun #56 of the Los Angeles Angels in the dugout before the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on July 24, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

The Wikipedia page for the city of Buckeye, Ariz., only lists two “notable people” who have called the place home: author Upton Sinclair and new Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Kole Calhoun.

Such lists will be small when the nation’s leader in population growth percentage for a city just became a city in 2014.

Sinclair apparently lived in Buckeye for a brief bit before moving back east. Calhoun, who is listed as Buckeye-born on his and Baseball References pages, also has a more complicated claim as a famous product of the city.

“I embrace it. I definitely embrace it,” he told Doug & Wolf Thursday on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station. “But when they say I’m from Buckeye, I didn’t get out to Buckeye until I was 14 years old. I was born in Tempe, raised in Phoenix. I grew up in a one-mile radius in my life until I was 14 years old. My family moved out to Buckeye, bought an acre and put a house on it.

“I live in Tempe now, yeah. (Living in Buckeye) was more of a logistics thing.”

Calhoun got on the collegiate baseball radar playing at Buckeye Union High School and even quarterbacked for the school’s football team after a failed stint as an undersized center, he told Doug & Wolf. His baseball skills led him to play at Yavapai College in Prescott, Ariz., before he transferred back to the Valley, where he played for Arizona State.

He was an eighth-round pick of the Los Angeles Angels in 2010 and stayed with the organization through last season.

The opportunity to live in the Valley on a full-time basis was a big part of the free agent joining the D-backs after the Angels didn’t pick up Calhoun’s option.

“For them to call first day, be engaged more than any other team, really … everything kind of lined up and worked out great,” Calhoun said.

“I get a little taste of it, I guess, each spring, to play in front of friends and family and stuff (in Arizona). Played one series at Chase Field in 2018, which was really, really cool. To now don a Diamondbacks uniform and to be able to play for the team I grew up watching, that’s going to be pretty cool. It was really a big factor in the free agency decision and where I wanted to go. This is home and now I get to make it home year-round.”

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