By Douglas W. Motley
There was still snow on the ground outside of the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Station but, for Deputy Chad Zerbe, the smell of spring was in the air.
“Usually, I start getting antsy in the middle of February because that’s when I’d report, or the beginning of March,” Zerbe said.
Traditionally, baseball spring training and practice begins around mid-February so Zerbe – who was a major league pitcher for four seasons – would have been ready to play ball right about now.
Zerbe pitched for the San Francisco Giants from 2000 to 2003, pitching for them in the 2002 World Series against the (then) Anaheim Angels. Ultimately the Angels prevailed, but it was not for a lack of trying. Zerbe pitched in Games 2, 5 and 7. In the four innings he pitched in Game 2, he reportedly allowed just four hits and only one run, which kept the Giants in the game for the time being. He cites this as being the height of his baseball career.
Zerbe also pitched for a while for the Dodgers, Diamondbacks and the Indians. Asked what it was like to be a major league baseball player, he responded, “Electrifying. It’s difficult to put that kind of environment into words, but it was an incredible environment to be in and something incredible to be part of.”
Zerbe’s love for baseball has never left him. He’s taking what he learned during a 15-year career that began when he was drafted by the Dodgers in 1991 and giving back. Today, he coaches young pitchers hoping to make it to the next level. So far, he’s helped about 100 high school players go on to pitch in college.
“It brings great pleasure to me, I mean, great enjoyment watching someone take what I was able to give them to help them reach a level that they’re trying to get to,” Zerbe told The Alpine Mountaineer in an exclusive interview on April 10.
As for what inspired him to get involved in baseball, he said he “was inspired by my two brothers and sister, who were all involved in sports, ranging from baseball and football to swimming and water polo. My parents said, as long as I’m involved with playing baseball at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Fla., where I grew up, I wouldn’t have to get a job so, really, I attribute my parents for inspiring me to play baseball.”
As far as what inspired Zerbe to choose a career in law enforcement, he said he enjoyed being outdoors, in public and not behind a desk, so, when a friend mentioned that the sheriff’s department was hiring, “I thought, ‘why not give it a try?’ I always liked responding to emergencies and helping people.”
Zerbe cited having people recognize him as a major league baseball pitcher when he’s out on patrol as a real thrill. They would say, “Are you by any chance the same Chad Zerbe who played for the Giants?”
The adrenaline rush he used to get from playing ball, he said, has now been replaced by keeping the mountain communities safe for the past eight years. “You have to understand how to play as a team player and not as an individual. Even though you’re out on calls by yourself, you’re still part of the team and doing what’s in the best interest of the victim and the sheriff’s department.”
“He’s one of our more experienced patrol deputies,” said Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Station Commander Captain Don Lupear, “and as such he’s been a great mentor to our younger deputies. He knows how to talk to people and it’s a pleasure to have him on our team.”
As for future plans, Zerbe said he enjoys watching his kids play sports and plans to retire someday, when the time comes. Then, he added, “There’s a lot of great things I’ve done in law enforcement, but my true passion in life is baseball. And if I could don a uniform again someday, that’s where I would like to be, wearing a baseball uniform.”