"Jon and his family call all the time," Jeff said later. "I just told him I was proud of him. I can live out my dreams through him."
"I try to keep things in perspective," says Peters. "When you think you have everything, and then you think about the hell Jeff's going through, it brings you back into yourself."
Not that Peters has ever been accused of having an inflated ego. "From an educator's standpoint," says school superintendent Gerald Anderson, "what pleases me most is I know that if something, heaven forbid, ever went wrong with Jon's arm, he would still be the best at whatever he chose to pursue. It's his personality. After all the media coverage has died down, he'll still be the same Jon Peters he's always been—a humble, respectful, courteous young man."
Jon's mother cannot remember when her son didn't want to be a major league pitcher. "He's been working toward that his whole life," says Ruth Peters. "Pushups, sit-ups, running several miles a day. People think he has all this talent, but his hard work and dedication are unreal—it makes you sick almost."
When Jon was younger, he asked his parents for a pitcher's mound as a Christmas gift. They built him one in the backyard and then had to take turns being his catcher, along with his older brother Ronnie, who is now a senior at Texas A & M, and his uncle, Jesse Gibson. One day, when Jon was 12, he uncorked a fastball that hit his mother on the wrist with such impact that the seams of the ball cut her skin, forcing her to get a tetanus shot. Later that year, in a Little League All-Star game, he pitched a perfect game, striking out all 18 batters he faced and hitting three home runs. That's when his family began to think he might someday be able to make it to the majors.
"I'd like to see him go to college," Ruth says, "but there's both pros and cons to that. If the money's there, you never know. He'll be 19 by then. He'll make up his own mind."
Houston Astros scouts, who have seen Peters several times, are coy when asked about his prospects. "He's a big boy, and what he's done is spectacular," says one. "But we have to project where guys will be down the road. Some guys come out of high school and stay at that level."
Peters, who had exploratory arthroscopic surgery last July on his throwing arm, has had his fastball clocked as high as 87 mph, and he threw it consistently in the mid-80's in last year's state tournament. This season he has been throwing in the low 80's—hardly eye-popping by major league standards—but he estimates that his arm is only 95% of full strength. Peters does have an excellent curve, and with his uneven, almost lunging delivery, it's hard for the batter to pick up the ball. "He hides it well," says Brenham's coach, Earl Hathaway, who calls all the pitches for Peters. "You can't teach that. Some people think he short-arms the ball [pitches without full extension], but that's because he can't straighten his right elbow. Maybe that's why he's got such a great curve."
"So many guys don't make it when they turn pro out of high school," says Peters, who is leaning toward attending college. "If I get a chance, I'd probably want to play for the University of Texas. I've got cousins who went there."
On Tuesday night last week, Peters got win No. 36, beating Willis 10-2 to raise Brenham's record to 23-3. It was a sloppy game. Both Willis runs were unearned, and after the crowd had gone, Hathaway had the team doing wind sprints in centerfield. Peters, who allowed just four singles, was sprinting with them, despite the fact that he had struck out 15, including seven in a row over one stretch.