The 2018 baseball season was a milestone for Oklahoma City native Andrew Heaney.
Heaney, 27, made 30 starts for the Los Angeles Angels and went 9-10 over 180 innings. After having Tommy John surgery (replacing a torn ligament with a healthy tendon) on his left elbow in July 2016, the Putnam City High product pitched seven games in 2017 but made it through a full season last year.
“Taxing is a good word,” Heaney says of his long recovery. “There were difficult times. It’s such a slow process and you don’t really see your progression.
“On a day-to-day basis, you just don’t feel like you’re ever really getting better. It’s something that was difficult, whether that’s physical or mental; that’s a hard thing to wrap your head around.”
Before his injury, Heaney says he was a stop-and-smell-the-roses sort of guy, always grateful for the opportunity to play baseball and make a nice living doing so.
However, since his surgery and subsequent recovery, he’s mindful about all of life’s blessings, on and off the field.
“You just don’t take anything for granted,” he says. “Pre-injury, I don’t think I took anything for granted, but it’s even more so now – just the little things to keep yourself healthy and keep yourself going.”
He’s never taken for granted his pride in Oklahoma, where he and his wife live in the offseason. And once the season concludes, his first stop upon returning to OKC is Ted’s Cafe Escondido for some Mexican food
Oklahoma “is a place that I grew up loving, that’s treated me well. Just love that area,” he says.
Between 2015 and 2018, Garrett Richards, who grew up in Edmond and pitched at the University of Oklahoma, was Heaney’s teammate on the Angels. Heaney, who played collegiately for Oklahoma State, and Richards, now with the San Diego Padres, frequently discussed their roots.
“We’d talk about it all the time,” he says. “When I’d go home and get Ted’s, I’d always send him a picture [or] if I’d go to Taco Bueno [or] Sonic,” Heaney says. “I was always texting him food and stuff. It’s just something we joked about.”
Growing up, Heaney often went to games at Globe Life Park, home of the Texas Rangers in Arlington. He’s always happy to see friends and family make the three-hour drive from OKC when the Angels visit the Rangers but admits the shine has come off that experience since hitting the big leagues in 2014.
“This sounds terrible, [but] I’m almost happier when people don’t come,” he says. “I think it’s kind of worn out a little bit. The first time I played [in Arlington], it was like eight or 10 people [who came] and I didn’t even pitch that series. And then the next time that I actually pitched, it was like 10 or 12 people. I think it’s just sort of the novelty’s worn off for people.
“It’s got to be a good situation. Yeah, it’s always cool [for them to come]. This is where I grew up watching games.”