Born: December 20, 1979
David Christopher DeJesus was born December 20, 1979 in Brooklyn and grew up in Manalapan, New Jersey. His father, Heryk, was a baseball fanatic going back to his boyhood days in Puerto Rico. As soon as the family moved to the Garden State, he built a backyard batting cage for David and his brothers, Michael and Heryk Jr. During the winters, the DeJesus boys moved to the basement, where they took hundreds of swings a day. All three played for Manalapan High School, but it was David who distinguished himself as the star of the Braves.
The Mets selected David in the 43rd round. He knew he wasn’t ready for pro ball, so he accepted a scholarship from Rutgers and went to work for coach Fred Hill. David made the varsity as a freshman and did well batting leadoff for the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers won the Big East title in 1998, but David was exhausted late in the season. He worked on his conditioning and had a great sophomore season. He played that summer in the Cape Cod League, hit .300 and made the all-star squad. David excelled at turning singles and walks into doubles with his base-stealing skill, and used his speed to become a top center fielder.
As a junior in 2000, David hit .368 and led Rutgers to another Big East championship. The team won a school-record 40 games and made it as far as the East Regional in the NCAA Tournament. In their final game, David broke his arm sliding into second base. That didn’t stop the Kansas City Royals from drafting him in the 4th round, but it did keep him off the field that summer.
David got the call to the big leagues at the end of his second pro season. The following season, 2004, he became the team’s everyday center fielder after Carlos Beltran was dealt to the Astros. David his .287 in 96 games and finished 6th in the Rookie of the Year voting. Over the next six seasons, he hit for a good average with medium power and distinguished himself as one of Kansas City’s best players. In 2007, he led the AL in being hit by pitch. His best year was 2008, when he batted .307 with 12 homers and 73 RBIs, mostly batting leadoff.
The Royals couldn’t afford to keep David once he was eligible for free agency. They traded him to the Oakland A’s, where he played the 2011 season and managed only a .240 average. The following winter he signed to play for the Chicago Cubs, who sold him to the Washington Nationals late in the 2013 season. Within a week the Nationals repackaged him to Tampa Bay, where he played in his first postseason at the age of 33. David appeared once in the Division Series victory over the Indians and played in all four games in the ALCS, batting .333 in a 3 games to 1 loss to the Red Sox.
The Rays re-signed David after the season. By this time he had become a platoon player, playing primarily against right-handed pitching. The Rays traded him to the Angels in August 2015 and he became a free agent after the season.