New York, New York
Jordan, a star athlete at Thorndale, and Caffey, Jordan’s equal at Thrall, found their baseball oasis at Herkimer Community College in New York state.
Herkimer is a junior college, made up of 3,600 students and located in the center of the state, 226 miles from New York City.
Coincidentally, this baseball mecca is not far from another baseball shrine, Cooperstown.
Since his arrival in 2005, coach Jason Rathbun has turned the Generals into a junior college power.
This past season, Herkimer went 31-13 and reached No. 12 in the national junior college rankings.
In enticing Jordan and Caffey to Herkimer, the domino effect was set in motion.
Rex Brinkmeyer of Taylor played for Herkimer from 2007-08.
After some hesitation concerning being so far away from home, Caffey committed.
“Hayden took some time to come around but finally got his mind around coming this far,” Rathbun said.
Caffey frantically tried to find someone to go with him. He immediately thought of his fiery cousin from Thorndale.
“Paxton was ready to come from the first phone call we had,” said Rathbun.
Spending his first year in the bull pen, Jordan moved into the designated hitter slot this past season, while also playing catcher, second base, third base and outfield as a spot starter.
He turned in a couple of games where he produced two runs batted in, including a two-run pinch hit against Columbia.
Caffey had an outstanding career at Herkimer as a two-year starter in centerfield. He hit over .300 and led the team in stolen bases.
In the cousins two years near the Big Apple, the Generals went 64-24, including an impressive 45-5 mark and two titles in the Mountain Valley Conference.
“Hayden had an incredible freshman year, really showing his game changing speed and adjusted to college pitching ahead of most incoming freshman,” Rathbun said. “Paxton was moved around as a freshman first coming in as a shortstop and then transitioning to the bullpen over the winter.
“Paxton is a very talented player. Both improved their game and really enjoyed their time here.”
Caffey has signed to play with Division I Arkansas-Pine Bluff, while Jordan just recently visited Texas Lutheran and has yet to make a decision.
Winning and with players from all over the country, was all part of the plan.
Of the 25 players on this year’s roster, seven were from out of state, including the only two Texans.
“I like to think of Herkimer as a special place,” said Rathbun, a former Herkimer pitcher. “I was a player who went from the north to the south and knew what it felt like. I wanted to create a program that people would feel comfortable coming to, no matter where you are from.
“I think we have done that, really stretching our program across the country and giving great student athletes a great experience.”
Last year alone the Generals had a player from Oregon, Florida, Texas, and the Dominican Republic.
Overall they have had players from Alaska, Texas, California, Florida, Georgia, as well as many of the New England states.
“I don’t think anyone really feels singled out because there are other people here just like them in the same situation, I think we learn from each other and that’s what makes our chemistry so good.”
“Hayden and Paxton are now doing just what we hoped for, they are spreading the word about our program.”
“Hayden was a great athlete and did a great job in centerfield as a leader with freshman on both sides of him.
“Paxton was loved by our players and was a leader and someone the players respected.
“They both flew to New York two years ago as young kids, but both left as quality men. I love both of them like my own kids.”