So let's see what happens when Jordan Whitlock Visits Section 36!
You’re currently working on your doctorate in genetics. What do you hope to do within that field?
I hope to continue research and advocacy for kiddos with rare diseases. Half of the battle for individuals born with rare genetic disorders is obtaining a diagnosis. Oftentimes, after having an answer (which is a huge relief and milestone in a diagnostic odyssey) it is unclear what an individual or family should do next.
Individually rare diseases may not appear to affect many, but collectively they affect millions worldwide. Because of this raising awareness and advocating for their needs in a research landscape that typically lacks adequate funding and resources for specific rare diseases is crucial. In the future, I would love to work for a nonprofit or public benefit corporation focused on helping kiddos and adults post-diagnosis continue their journey through raising awareness and building communities. Ideally, I would love to be in a role where I can direct research in order to find treatments that increase their quality of life or drive research to accelerate discoveries toward cures for rare diseases. I am a people person, and interacting and helping individuals in need is a core passion of mine, especially with rare diseases.
As an avid traveler, what is your favorite place you’ve visited?Ooh, this is a tough one. I always joke with Garrett that I would take a plane ticket from a stranger to anywhere as long as it was somewhere I have never been.
My favorite domestic trip so far would definitely be our most recent trip this last off-season to San Diego and the Coastal Highway to visit one of my sisters. Whenever we travel I am all about immersing myself in the local people and culture or vibe of a destination and love to partake in any extreme sports or outdoor activities whereas Garrett loves a good view and relaxing getaway. San Diego was the best of both worlds for us. I got to take surfing lessons with my sister while he lounged on the beach.
As far as outside of the United States thus far my favorite trip hands down would be our Honeymoon in Athens, Greece back in 2019. It was a total surprise to me, all planned by Garrett. He remembered when we first met in 2015 that I mentioned it was at the top of my travel bucket list. I had no idea he remembered until we got to the airport and I realized where we were going. It was absolutely beautiful, even during the winter. We took a segway tour of the city and just wandered around without maps to see where the day would take us. One day we took the local metro system and booked a ferry out to a small local fishing town on an island and another day we rented a car and drove along the coast up to the temple of Poseidon for sunset. It was our first trip as a married couple and will always be a core memory of mine.
Your husband, Garrett, went from Tommy John surgery, to a COVID canceled season, to joining the Red Sox all within about a year and a half. How did you deal with that unprecedented life instability and uncertainty?
Even prior to TJ and COVID during the minor leagues, I had to learn that constant change and uncertainty are just a built-in part of this baseball life. You catch on really fast that you either have to roll with it or get rolled over by it. I think that's the part of this lifestyle, which may seem crazy to an outsider looking in -- living out of a suitcase with no furniture in an apartment, not knowing where you will be in a week or a month -- that really makes you cherish the small things and the present. Embracing the change, that's what makes it fun and has led to us exploring cities we would never have visited and met people who have turned into lifelong friends all over the country thanks to this game. We are never guaranteed tomorrow, and God has already written out a plan for our lives better than we can imagine, so that's something I always lean into whenever I am overwhelmed by the instability and uncertainty of this lifestyle. I find a lot of peace in that. There's always a silver lining to unforeseen change too. COVID, while tough for many gave us a silver lining and we got to spend our first year together as newlyweds without long distance. Because of TJ, we had 20 months to focus on ourselves and define what our foundation for our family would be outside of baseball. His injury, which seemed life-shattering at the time was exactly what we needed and a big reason Garrett ended up getting drafted in the Rule 5 to Boston. If that season of uncertainty had never happened, we would not be where we are today -- so blessed and thankful to call Boston home for a while and home some stability.
How often do you get to see Garrett pitch in person?
Ironically it feels like I always fly in the day after he pitches or leaves the day before he ends up going in. Trying to "schedule" to see him throw when he is coming out of the pen is extremely difficult especially when I don't live with him up in Boston and travel full time. Luckily, my Ph.D. mentor is amazing and is super supportive of our situation. I can throw on the game in the background during work in the lab or fly out every couple of weeks to see him for a few days at a time during a series. Usually, I am there long enough to catch an outing or two!
Other than Section 36, what is your favorite feature or experience at Fenway Park?
Definitely the atmosphere and authenticity of the stadium. There is nothing else like it. Last year was our first year in the Big Leagues, so prior to that, I had never had a chance to visit a ton of ballparks outside the Braves (we grew up in ATL) and the Royals (that's where I was born). It doesn't matter who the Red Sox are playing the crowd is always energized for every big hit or strikeout. When I walked into the ballpark for opening day last year, even though it was different with COVID you could still feel the electricity of the crowd and the history in the park. The ramp-up in the atmosphere toward the end of the season with playoffs was insane!
Being in the bullpen seems to automatically mean a pitcher will see some criticism during the season. How do you deal with the negative side of Red Sox fan social media?
Social media is a platform today where people can share and express opinions, but that does not necessarily mean that they are also truths. I believe that words don't carry any weight unless you allow them to and the same applies to criticism during the season. I understand it's a part of the game, especially at this high of a level a big stage comes with big scrutiny. I just wish people would really think before they click "comment" and recognize that while yes we are a Red Sox baseball family, at the end of the day we are also people too.