DENVER -- Greg Reynolds grew up with a ball in his hand. Nobody knows the number of passes, jumpshots and pitches he has logged since childhood.
He made All-State in football, attracting scholarship offers as a 6-foot-7-inch quarterback slinging darts for Terra Nova High School in the coastal town of Pacifica, Calif., south of San Francisco. Baseball, however, offered more possibilities. Reynolds attended Stanford, emerging as the school's ace in his junior season. When former Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd scouted Reynolds, the right-hander bested Washington ace Tim Lincecum. The Rockies selected Reynolds with the second overall pick in the 2006 draft. Two years later, he made his big league debut.
"There are great memories, ones I will always cherish. How many people get to the big leagues and get that opportunity to play on that level?" Reynolds told Denver7 this week. "For awhile you lose track of that, but as I have gotten older, I am really grateful for all the people I met in Denver and the Rockies for taking a chance on me."
Baseball didn't work out exactly how Reynolds planned. In 2013, he finished with a 6-11 record with a 7.01 ERA, sabotaged by injuries. Reynolds returned to Stanford and completed his economics degree.
"I went back to campus. It was great. They are very helpful to former student athletes who want to finish. They want you to come back. It was a cool experience for me," Reynolds said. "You have a different perspective when you go back. You don't take things for granted. I was able to stop and enjoy it. I was able to focus on the schooling part. Just being a normal student, I couldn't believe how much time I had to get things done."
A life in finance made cents, but not sense to Reynolds. After taking time to enjoy his family -- wife Megan and daughters Sloane (3) and Jules (1) -- Reynolds decided recently to follow in his father Mike's footsteps. Mike worked 30 years as a San Francisco firefighter, retiring as a lieutenant.
"The more I thought about it, the more similarities I could see between my baseball career and the fire department, being part of something bigger than yourself and working on a team," Reynolds said. "That's something I always liked -- working with teammates. That was one of the biggest deciding factors, and it was full go. And with my dad, he's been incredibly helpful. He has so much experience. He's proud of me just like I was with him. It's been cool."
Like a pitcher working his way into the rotation, Reynolds has checked off boxes in his climb. He completed CPR training, became a certified EMT (emergency medical technician), took a fire history class and remains knee-deep in his training at the Sierra College Firefighter Academy in Roseville, Calif. He has roughly two months left to earn his firefighter certification.
"It's been really fun. It's an academy of around 40 students. We do a mix of hands-on stuff and schooling. It's hard and really physical, but it's so enjoyable," said Reynolds, who relished not working out after his pro career ended but has returned in force to regain fitness required for his new path. "We are doing more exciting things. We were putting out live fires the other day. It was an adrenaline rush. It's practice. But when you have a chance to save someone's property or someone in danger, that's going to be extremely rewarding."
I asked Reynolds if the coronavirus pandemic gripping the nation created pause regarding his new path. Not a chance.
"If anything it makes me want to do it more," Reynolds said. "It won't stop me from pursuing it. Right now, it highlights the need for all these first responders and more training in these types of things. As a whole, if we can learn from this, it will benefit us in the future."