Growing up, Jake Tanner Diekman played baseball, basketball and golf at Southern High School in Wymore, Nebraska. He pitched two seasons at Cloud County Community College in Corcordia, Kansas, and graduated in 2007 with an associate’s degree in business administration.
He received an offer for a full scholarship to be a Nebraska Cornhusker, which he would have accepted had he not been drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in 2007. Between 2007 and 2010, he pitched in the lower levels of the Philadelphia Phillies' Minor League system, initially as a starter and subsequently as a reliever.
On July 31, 2015, Diekman was traded to the Texas Rangers.
In 2016, Jake finished the season with a 4-2 record, made over 66 relief appearances in his first full season with the Rangers, and earned the first four saves of his Major League career. His 26 holds were third most in club history, following 27 by Mike Adams in 2012 and Tanner Scheppers in 2013.
Jake was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at the age of 10. For most of his teenage years, Jake's symptoms subsided and he pursued his athletic passions.
Over the course of his life and baseball career, Diekman has fought the painful effects of ulcerative colitis while still excelling as a big league pitcher. Following a flare-up of his condition over the 2016 Thanksgiving holiday, doctors recommended a series of surgical procedures to remove his colon and replace it with a reservoir to account for the absence of the organ in his body. In 2017, Jake missed the majority of campaign following three surgeries to replace his colon.
Jake has overcome this latest health hurdle with the same dogged determination that allowed him to climb to the Major Leagues despite the obstacles endured with his ailment. An inspiration to teammates, fans and those forced to contend with similar health issues, Diekman has been a vocal supporter of and participant in fundraising and awareness activities for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America. For the last two seasons, he has hosted children affected by Crohn’s disease and colitis at games in Philadelphia and Texas, providing them with game tickets and meeting with each child individually.
Jake established the Gut It Out Foundation in August 2017 with a mission to connect patients and caregivers through education and inspiration in order to strengthen relationships and resources within the IBD community. The Gut It Out Foundation supports organizations and efforts dedicated to improving the quality of life for IBD patients and their families. The organization’s areas of focus include education, research, pediatric care and support groups.
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center is honored to welcome and pay tribute to Jake Diekman as the 53rd Hutch Award® winner.