Jake Diekman

Pitcher's Awareness Campaign Focuses On Catchphrase He Has Tattooed On His Wrist

Jake Diekman
Diekman, who started his MLB career setting records, also battles ulcerative colitis on a daily basis. Image © Getty Images Sport

In the 2014 Major League Baseball (MLB) season, Philadelphia Phillies left-handed relief pitcher Jake Diekman recorded 100 strikeouts in 71 innings. This is important for two reasons: the first being that it was the second-highest season strikeout total by a relief pitcher in Phillies history. The second reason is that Diekman lives with ulcerative colitis, and has done so since the age of 10 years old.

Ulcerative colitis is an incurable disease of the digestive tract, and is just one type of a group of diseases known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which also includes Crohn's disease. Like many kids who are diagnosed with IBD, Diekman went through many tests and spent extensive time in the hospital trying to get his ulcerative colitis under control. Diekman is currently undergoing a 3-step surgery to remove his large intestine and create a j-pouch. 

Baseball Career

Diekman was born January 21, 1987 in Wymore, Nebraska, and still lives in Nebraska during the baseball off-season. At the age of 10, Diekman began exhibiting symptoms that were initially thought to be a typical illness that would resolve on its own. After symptoms worsened he was finally diagnosed with ulcerative colitis.

In high school Diekman played baseball for an American Legion team before going on to college and playing for Doane College in Crete, Nebraska and Cloud County Community College in Concordia, Kansas. He became known for his fastball, which averages at over 90 miles per hour, and has been clocked as high as 100 miles per hour. His slider which is often described as "devastating," also garnered him attention from baseball scouts. 

During the 2007 MLB Draft, Diekman was selected by the Phillies in the 30th round. On May 15, 2012, Diekman made his Major League Baseball debut, where he rounded out a promising bullpen for the Phillies as a reliever. He does particularly well pitching against left-handed batters, and his season of 100 strike-outs put him at seventh place for strikeouts by MLB relievers. In July of 2015, Diekman was traded to the Texas Rangers. 

IBD Awareness Campaign

Diekman has his ups and downs with ulcerative colitis, as most patients with IBD do, because the disease goes through periods of flare-ups and remissions. In December of 2014, he decided to go public with his IBD diagnosis, which he'd been living with for more than half his life. The response on social media was immediate, with fellow IBD patients and fans alike offering their support.

During a flare-up he coined a catchphrase to inspire himself to keep moving forward and not to lose sight of his goals. Many people with IBD lose weight when the disease is active, and Diekman, who is 6' 4", had unintentionally lost several pounds during the off-season. He had a hard road ahead of him in training, and he told himself that he had to "gut it out." Diekman went on to have "GUT IT OUT" tattooed on the inside of his right wrist before the start of spring training in February 2015.

Diekman decided to take his mantra and to partner with Athletes Brand, a company that creates "clothing for the worlds best athletes, designed by the worlds best athletes." The result is a limited-edition t-shirt, wristband, and socks with the phrase "Gut It Out" over the background of a baseball. Proceeds from sales of the apparel go to the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation.

Diekman is active on social media with his fans and other IBD patients. You can find him on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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