J.D. Scholten Credit: Sioux City Explorers

When he looked down at his phone and saw 10 missed texts from Mongo, J.D. Scholten couldn’t anticipate what was to happen.

“Call me ASAP,” the text read.

Having a political background as a current Iowa state representative, he was worried.

The worries surpassed when Steve Montgomery (a.k.a. Mongo), manager of the Independent League’s Sioux City Explorers, told Scholten his scenario.

“He goes, ‘Starting pitcher got hurt, the game’s in three hours …'”

The Xs needed a starter on Saturday and Scholten was their guy.

He was in the middle of volunteering at the Sioux City festival, Saturday in the Park — a big event where The Bleachers were headlining.

JD Scholten
Iowa Rep. JD Scholten, D-Sioux City, speaks during a debate in the Iowa House. Credit: The Des Moines Register

“I’m like, well — my shift doesn’t end until 5:30, and the game’s at 6, so I’ll call you back in 10 minutes, I got to find someone to cover my shift,” Scholten told The Comeback on Wednesday.

In his mind, it was the moment he had been waiting for.

“There’s a line in a movie that I love, that said, ‘How do you make God laugh? It’s to have a plan.'”

Scholten, 44, quickly grabbed his things to go to the ballpark, sign a contract, and go over the scouting report. By that time, it was almost first pitch.

It was no longer a prank as he originally thought on the drive to Lewis and Clark Park.

After working himself out of a bases-loaded jam and getting some help from X’s bats, the team went on to defeat the Milwaukee Milkmen, 11-2.

The starter finished with two strikeouts, two earned, and seven hits in 6 2/3 innings.

That was more innings than he expected, too.

“In my mind, I was hoping for five innings at most, Scholten said.

The moment Montgomery came out to signal to the bullpen, Scholten said it was special.

“For it to be Sioux City, the place that I love, like — the place I literally represent at the state capital, it’s just so meaningful because after the game, my college roommate was there with his son,” he added. “They came and said Hi, a lot of people I’ve known for my entire life — people who are in my dad’s fantasy baseball league … The crowd was really into it.”

Scholten has an extensive baseball background as well.

“I grew up with a ball in my crib,” he said. “My dad was a college baseball coach for about 30 years or so. The love of the game came straight from my folks.”

He attended Morningside College for three years where he played college baseball. He graduated in December 2003 after transferring to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to pitch for the Huskers. He then played for the Saskatoon Legends of the Canadian Baseball League that same year.

He would eventually play for the Xs before this unique outing and took his talents abroad to play professionally in Germany, France, and Cuba to name a few.

During his 2018 congressional campaign, baseball was the theme. It was all over his ad.

“Almost like a ‘Field of Dreams’ knockoff,” Scholten said.

If you recognize the voice, that’s Kevin Coster doing the voiceover.

Baseball runs through his veins. To have him representing his team on that baseball team — was too perfect. And he certainly made an impression. Whatever it was, it helped.

Scholten will start for the Xs on Thursday against the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks.

Does that mean he’s a true member of the rotation?

“Yet to be determined,” Scholten said.

He does, however, have the support of Montgomery and everyone else associated with the team.

“The entire staff of the Xs, whether it’s front office, the press box, Mongo — everyone’s been fantastic,” Scholten said.

[image: Sioux City Explorers Instagram]

About Jessica Kleinschmidt

Jess is a baseball fan with Reno, Nev. roots residing in the Bay Area. She is the host of "Short and to the Point" and is also a broadcaster with the Oakland A's Radio Network. She previously worked for MLB.com and NBC Sports Bay Area.