First pitch.

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It’s
clear that not much had rattled RoughRiders lefthander Derek Holland from 60
feet, six inches away in Dr Pepper Ballpark since his arrival in Frisco two and
a half weeks ago. 

 

Until
this, perhaps:

 

frisco0829-4.jpg

 

I
didn’t plan on putting any air under my pitch, and Derek knew it.  I just hoped I wouldn’t put one in the dirt
and ding him before his upcoming playoff start, or let one sail and drill
Deuce.

 

It’s
funny.  I remember warming up with Max
and Riders Senior VP Michael Byrnes before the game, just to make sure I was
loose.  I remember walking out onto the field
with Max and hearing P.A. announcer John Clemens’s introduction as we reached the
mound, each with a baseball in hand as Holland settled into his crouch behind
the plate.

 

The
next thing I remember is turning around and telling Max he could scoot up in
front of the mound if he wanted to (but of course that was like asking him to
clean his room while eating a plate full of green beans), and watching him
unleash a pitch, needing just one hop to meet Derek’s glove, experiencing something
that every four-year-old who cares about this game should get to experience. 

 

But
Max’s pitch was after mine.

 

I
don’t remember kicking into the windup, I don’t remember the delivery, I don’t
remember seeing the ball cross the plate (though I’m told I caught the inside
black, and I’m sure there was plenty
of deception and late life). 

 

I
know it was one of the coolest moments this game has given me on a personal
level, but seconds after it went down, I had no memory of it. 

 

Proof
that it did happen:

 

frisco0829-8.jpg

 

Plus
a little evidence that I pounded the zone (check the video board up in the
corner and note where Derek’s glove is as the pitch settles in):

 

frisco0829-3.jpg

 

Max
refusing to pitch from any closer than the mound:

 

frisco0829-6.jpg

 

(I
doubt anyone out there has video of the above, but if you do, please let me know.)

 

There
were plenty of other memorable moments tonight – encounters with several of you
(including an overdue visit with “Brooklun Bill”), Erica running into some of
her friends unexpectedly, catching up with one player’s mother who has raised her
kids right, the 99-mph fastball that Neftali Feliz ended the first inning with
and the diving 81-mph change that he threw to tie up a hitter in the second, watching
Julio Borbon and Elvis Andrus effortlessly defend balls in play that others at
their positions don’t get even to at full effort, and getting to sit in with
Scott Garner and Bill Mercer (who announced Rangers games on radio and TV when I
was Max’s age) for three and a half innings of the television broadcast in the
middle of the game – but the ones that will stick with me will be the moments
just before the game started (the parts I remember, at least) and the one right
after it, when Max could barely keep his eyes open but still managed to wear the
smile of a kid who’d just had a really good night:

frisco0829-1.jpg

My
thanks to Michael and to Baseball Operations and Communications Manager Brian
SanFilippo, and to Scott and Bill in the booth, and to Neftali and Julio and
Elvis for doing what they do.

 

And
to Derek Holland, not only for signing Max’s baseball and Max’s glove but,
maybe more importantly, for being on the other end of the first pitch I’d
thrown off a mound in 21 years . . . for framing it perfectly . . . and for not
getting hurt.

 

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