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J.D. Drew
Small town produces Major League talent

By Corey Gottlieb /

It is tractors and soybeans mixed with gospel and the Good Book, a place where country and conviction intersect with almost clichéd predictability.

Home to roughly 2,500 people and exactly 14 churches, Hahira, Georgia is a 2.3-square-mile homage to things as they once were.

And yet, Hahira is permeated by something larger, a principle called Drewism that has become a tenet of the community's Southern Baptist ideals.

Born and raised in Hahira, baseball's Drew brothers evolved from athletic prodigies into the town's prodigal sons, as they became the only sibling trio ever selected in the first round of the First-Year Player Draft.

"The Drew brothers have put us on the map, that's for sure," says Mayor Wayne Bullard. "They've been a great asset to our town -- brought us a lot of recognition."

That said, in a place where the past so thoroughly defines the present, personal accomplishment is outweighed by the substance of tradition. As such, the billboard on U.S. Interstate 41 reading "Welcome to Hahira, Home of J.D., Tim and Stephen Drew" is not so much a declaration of the town's claim to fame as it is a reminder of the boys' roots.

Those roots are defined by the blue-collar composition of the brothers' bloodline:

They are the sons of David, a school maintenance man, and Libby, a librarian, who grew up in nearby Adel and have lived in the same home for 30 years.

They are the nephews of Alan, the band director at Hahira Middle School, and the grandsons of Margaret Boyette, who remains in the town as well.

"The brothers come from a great family -- a great bunch of people," says Bullard. "The Drews mean an awful lot to Hahira."

Age: 33

Hometown: Hahira, Georgia

School: Florida State University

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And Hahira means an awful lot to them, a notion that is perhaps most evident -- and most ironic -- in observing J.D today. Known early in his career for a post-Draft holdout, the eldest Drew has at times appeared entirely estranged from a town in which the median income is $27,946.

But beyond the surface there is more: the humility of a man who is only just now being understood and who is driven by faith in his religion and his past.

"Heck, yeah, I worked, man," J.D. told the Boston Globe in a prior interview. "That's why I appreciate what we got going in this game. Working tobacco is not the ultimate job you want to have. … That's a hard, hard lifestyle."

Like his brothers, Drew appreciates the hardness of that lifestyle as an innately positive thing.

And, like his parents, he will be certain that its lessons are perpetuated: The 30-year-old still owns a home in Hahira and will surely bring his two young children there now that his season is over.

Perhaps he'll take them to the annual honeybee festival, or teach them to drive a tractor on his uncle's farm, as J.D.'s father once did with him.

One thing is certain, though: Jack David and Ella Drew will be as much from Hahira as are its other 2,500 proud citizens.

Corey Gottlieb is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.