This post is part of our broader end-of-season content/awards lineup that’s being published on the site this week; click here for more information on that list, and to see the other awards and posts within. This post is about our favorite feature that we wrote in 2017: a story on Ventura College outfielder (and Culver-Stockton College) commit TJ Durfee. You can read that feature interview by clicking here.

There’s quite a bit to love in TJ Durfee and his inspiring story about coming back from being away from the game and rediscovering his love for it, but more than anything I think I’ve always been struck by how Durfee quickly understood baseball as a path to something better: a bigger worldview, a life outside of his hometown, and most especially, a shot at an education. The “small town” angle is often too stereotypical to be groundbreaking when it inevitably gets used to tell a player’s story, but in Durfee’s case it’s an illuminating angle to better understand the environment in which he grew up in Paso Robles, California, and the life he was able to leave behind — first, for Ventura College, and now, for four-year school in Missouri.

If you haven’t yet, please do click here and read the inspiring story of Durfee and his life straight outta Paso Robles. Now that TJ Durfee is at his next stop at Culver-Stockton College in Missouri, he gets another shot to continue to write his story — playing baseball as long as he can while getting an education and spending yet another year out away from his hometown and out in the world. Good for him, and it makes for a very easy pick for our favorite feature interview of the 2017 season.

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