WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. • Josh Peterson is eagerly waiting for the return of America’s pastime just like millions of fans across the country.
The Northeast Mississippi Community College alumnus is one of thousands of athletes, coaches, trainers and front office personnel involved with professional baseball that have seen their season put on hold by the coronavirus pandemic.
Peterson, who played for the Tigers from 2014-15, is in his second year within the Houston Astros organization as a strength and conditioning coach at the minor league level.
He spent his inaugural campaign with Houston’s Triple-A affiliate in Round Rock, Texas. Peterson was part of the Express’ run to the 2019 Pacific Coast League (PCL) championship series after winning the American Conference title in five games over the Iowa Cubs.
Peterson was assigned to the Tri-City (N.Y.) ValleyCats of the Class A Short Season New York-Penn League (NYPL) this year. He also spent all of the abbreviated spring training period at the Astros’ home facility in West Palm Beach, Fla.
“I’m super thankful that the Astros gave me an opportunity to come work for them,” Peterson said. “I’m basically living the life of a Minor League Baseball player. All the players and even staff members get (trading) cards and at games fans were wanting my autograph. For me to sign a card and have that moment was an amazing experience.”
He has numerous responsibilities on a daily basis to ensure the athletes stay healthy and at their prime. They include overseeing the weight room, agility training and nutritional needs such as making plans for pregame and postgame meals.
“I kinda wear a couple hats,” said Peterson. “Mostly I just spend my day focusing on running sessions in the gym and on the field. I’m just trying to help the guys physically develop.
“Probably the most important thing I do is build relationships with the players. Get to know the guys on a personal level and understand what they’re going through. All the coaching that I do is only as effective as how much the guys trust me.
Peterson’s adventures on the diamond have essentially taken him across most of the nation. He signed with Northeast after earning second-team all-conference accolades at Ralston Valley (Colo.) High School.
He appeared in 50 total games in two seasons on the Booneville campus. Peterson batted .234 with eight doubles, two home runs, 24 RBIs and 21 runs scored while donning a black-and-gold uniform.
Peterson helped the Tigers reach the playoffs and host the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) State Tournament at Harold T. White Field during his freshman campaign.
Peterson was recognized with MACJC Academic All-State honors and the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Award for Exemplary Academic Achievement at Northeast.
He wrapped up his playing career at the University of North Georgia. The Nighthawks won the Peach Belt Conference (PBC) championship and qualified for the NCAA Division II College World Series in Grand Prairie, Texas, during Peterson’s senior season.
The Arvada, Colo., native saw action at first base and designated hitter while at both Northeast and North Georgia. He received PBC Presidential Scholar distinction and the Division II Athletics Directors Association (D2ADA) Academic Achievement Award while with the Nighthawks.
“I’ve been very blessed in this journey,” said Peterson. “If you would have told 18-year-old me my freshman year at Northeast that I was going to be where I am today, I’d probably look at you and tell you that you were crazy.
“I’ve got to travel to a lot of cool places that I wouldn’t have been able to go to if it wasn’t for baseball and along the way got to build some really good relationships. This next chapter is just starting and I’m excited to see where I end up."