PEABODY — Jeff Allison figures he’s told his story to about a dozen auditoriums full of high school students over the last year.
None of them meant as much to the 28-year-old former Major League Baseball first round draft choice than yesterday’s presentation back where it all began for him: Peabody Veterans Memorial High School.
For about 45 minutes, Allison spoke to Peabody’s senior class about temptation, peer pressure and his highly publicized battle with drug addiction.
Just a few hundred feet from the place where his No. 9 Tanner baseball jersey is framed in the lobby, Allison told an audience of 500 not to ignore the message.
“I was you, and there wasn’t a guy like me or Chris Herren that could come and give me this perspective,” he said. “I looked the other way every time someone spoke. Don’t do something that will make you say ‘I wish I listened to Jeff’ later.”
Allison graduated from Peabody High in 2003, “Ten years? It feels like 10 minutes ago,” he said.
Upon graduating he immediately signed a professional baseball contract with the Florida Marlins. He was in and out of baseball, rehab and jail for the next several years and had a productive minor league career from 2008-2011.
Clean now for six years, Allison’s been out of pro baseball for a little more than 12 months. He’s a pitching instructor and a travel team coach at Peabody native Steve Lomasney’s Show Baseball Academy, and he’s passionate about telling his story in the hopes that he can help somebody avoid repeating his mistakes.
“It’s something that’s important, in a sense. It gives me a sense of fulfillment and it’s comforting,” Allison said after his presentation. He’s never been one to run away from his past and he’d rather share it than bury it. Being around baseball remains a blessing.