In 1999 Jonas Swyer pitched a no-hitter for the Santa Monica High baseball team. A few weeks later the junior righthander pitched another one.
Pro scouts and college coaches noticed. Swyer had 10 scholarship offers a year later from universities all over the country and chose Connecticut
The rest of this story will answer the question of what happens to the high school superstar who suffers an injury and doesn’t make it in pro ball.
The short answer is that Swyer, now 28, has become successful painting murals. He’s painted eight for Floyd’s barber shop, including the ones at Lincoln and Rose and Venice Blvd. at Grandview. He even was sent to Chicago for six days to paint one there.
“You never know what;s going to happen in life,” he says. “If I hadn’t met the owner of Floyd’s by chamce this wouldn’t have happened.”
Swyer does other painting, including logos. The murals are retro and usually feature people local to the area.
“I took art classes in college and developed an interest in painting,” he said.
“I really liked Connecticut but became homesick and transferred to UC Riverside. In Riverside there were quite a few empty lots where I could experiment with my painting.
“I was a relief pitcher in college but had one start at Riverside. After five innings I felt pain in my shoulder and knew something was wrong. But I finished the inning and was due to bat when we came up.
“I got a pitch I liked and thought I may have a home run. But the pop fly barely made it out of the infield, Then I noticed my shoulder was out of the socket.”
Swyer suffered a torn labrium and torn rotator cuff. He tried hard to come back, but a year later realized his dream of making the major leagues wasn’t going to be realized.
So with the help of a cherished college instructor, David Aurillo, he began concentrating on painting.
“It was time to get on with my life,” he said.
Over the years Swyer has thought about high school players he shared the field with in various in-season and off-season competition — future major leaguers Chase Utley, Coco Crisp, Andre Eithier, Jason Verlander, Connor Jackson, Kasey Janssen, Chad Cordero, and Chris Smith, among others.
During the time he attended Connecticut he went to a Yankees-Red Sox game in Fenway Park with his father, Alan, a Santa Monica-based writer and director. The tickets were left by Crisp.
On to new challenges.
Today the Venice resident is still receiving applause, not for striking out hitters but for another pursuit.
“I often paint at night when there’ll be less interruptions,” he said. “But when I’m painting in the daytime and the mural is looking good, drivers will pass by, honk their horns and make favorable comments. That’s pretty cool.”
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