Young athlete sets pro career aside long enough to reach mission goal

One of Jason Turley's two major goals in life - playing professional baseball - came a step closer to fulfillment when he was selected by the Houston Astros in June's amateur baseball draft.

But Jason, a member of the Yellow Creek Ward, Evanston South Stake, put that ambition aside temporarily so he could fulfill his other goal - serving a mission.He signed a unique contract with the Astros before accepting a call to the Texas Corpus Christi Mission and entering the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, on June 16. Under terms of the pact, Jason will report to the Astros' camp in Kissimmee, Fla., immediately upon release from his mission in 1995.

Jason's achievements have made his parents, Wayne and Becky Turley, doubly proud.

"Jason is the type of individual who knows what's right and he does it regardless of consequences," said his father.

Several major league teams expressed interest in Jason, but backed off after discovering his plans to serve a mission.

During the draft, "we prayed all day that a team would draft him that would let him go on a mission," his father said. "We're so grateful to the Astros."

The Astros were sold on Jason after scouts discovered he was an excellent hitter - consistently batting over .500 - and had an earned run average under 2.00 as a pitcher for Brighton High School in Salt Lake County last season.

He can also play the outfield, keeping his potent bat in the lineup when he isn't pitching.

During the days leading up to the draft, Jason faced some trials.

A scout from one team even ridiculed Jason, according to his mother, and told him if he went on a mission he would never play pro ball.

"[That scoutT really worried Jason," his mother said.

But, according to his father, when the scout told Jason he would call back the next day to see what Jason's decision was, Jason said, "You don't need to call back. I've made my decision."

"He just never doubted [that a missionT was the thing to do," his mother said. "If that was taken care of, everything would fall into place. He knows he can't be a ballplayer without Heavenly Father behind him."

While living in Sandy, Utah, Jason split his sophomore year between Taylorsville and Brighton high schools. Then his family moved to Evanston, Wyo., and he spent his junior year at Evanston High School. Since there is no high school baseball in Wyoming, Jason transferred back to Brighton High School so he could play baseball his senior season. He lived with his grandmother, Maxine Turley, until he graduated in June.

Jason's parents watched him preparing the foundation for a correct choice concerning his mission from the time he was a young boy. They said he happily accompanied the family to Church meetings, studied the scriptures on his own as well as with his family, often performed baptisms for the dead at the temple, and kept his speech clean.

Last summer Jason played for the Evanston Outlaws, an American Legion team that had some games scheduled on Sundays.

"He wouldn't even go to the ballpark on Sundays," his father said.

When Jason's team went on a road trip, he would stay in the hotel room during Sunday games. It was hard for him to miss games, but he made the right decision on his own.

That is a trait he still owns.

"Jason would not have signed with the Astros if they wouldn't have let him go on a mission first," his father concluded.

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed