Yesterday I received a Google Alert that AAA Rochester Red Wing pitcher Zack Littell will make a spot start for the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday in one of their two doubleheader games.
This news is of little consequence for many. For some others, like those who don’t follow Minnesota – or Zack’s career for that matter – the news is background noise.
For the residents of Mebane, NC however, this may be as big a day as they’ve had in a generation. Their hometown boy – who five years ago signed with the Mariners organization right out of high school – makes his major league debut. Small town kid on baseball’s biggest stage.
Pretty darn cool ain’t it?
But why, in Heaven’s name does a Yankee fan from Jersey care enough to write about a kid he’s never met, from a town he’s never visited let alone heard of, about making a start for the Minnesota Twins?
Because outside of NC, I think I may be one of this kid’s biggest fans.
Last year I saw him pitch several times for Trenton (Yankees AA affiliate). In one, I got to see him strike out 10 in a game, and in each effort carry himself as a seasoned professional.
So when the Yanks traded him for Jamie Garcia last summer I was disappointed. I would have LOVED seeing this kid in pinstripes. But, it wasn’t meant to be. That week I wrote a blog about his trade and the next day I get a tweet from … HIS MOM!
From that day on Allie Littell and I have been baseball buddies. Baseball family, might even be closer to the truth. She ought to be a sibling of mine. One who loves the game and gets it like I do . Texting and tweeting about baseball and both of us rooting feverishly for Zack’s success. She, clearly, having a far greater vested interest.
One thing I find kind of funny is, in the year we have known each other, texted and tweeted and Instagramed about baseball, Allie and I haven’t ever even spoken. But she knows all about me, and the most wonderful person to enter my life, Stacy. She knows about our dog Rocco and my affinity for team mascots.
I know about her 3 (four in real life) kids, her raising them as a single Mom and her dreams of one day owning an RV to travel the country so she can “baseball” at fields from coast to coast to see her favorite MLB team … that being whomever her son is employed by.
She knows there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for Stace and there is no one I love more. I know there’s nothing she wouldn’t do for those kids of hers and there is no one she could possibly love more (Tim McGraw not withstanding).
And even though we have never spoken let alone met, when she tells me the latest about her kids accomplishments I swear I sometimes feel the same way I do when I hear good news about one of my own sister’s kids.
So when I got the Google alert that Zack got the call, I felt an unparalleled rush of excitement. He is going to The Show. Holy Mackerel. This kid I watched pitch, became an immediate fan of, and followed through his AA and AAA journey will stand on the mound in Target Field.
If me, an outsider who is just a fan is so pleased with the news, I can only imagine how those who do know him, and are an actual part of his true family, must feel. The pride. The joy. The sense of accomplishment after so much sacrifice.
Yes. Its a spot start and he will go back to AAA. But there is only one way to be sent down to AAA … you have to have been called to play in the big leagues first.
So tomorrow, Tuesday, June 5th 2018 Zachary Littell will step over the baselines, onto the infield grass and up the 10″ bump that is the pitcher’s mound. He’ll toe the rubber, and take a deep breath. His Mom and girlfriend will likely be squeezing each others hand tighter than what you or I would consider comfortable. Neither will notice any pain over the anxiety and excitement. Littell will fire his first pitch as a Minnesota Twin. His mom, his girl, his siblings and everyone from Mebane who could make it to Minnesota will be in attendance. I will be tuning in on my AtBat app.
This is going to be a cool moment.
I will say it again. I never even met the kid, but I still feel so proud of, and happy for, him.
And for Allie.
And Kait. And Jake. And Autumn …. And Mebane, NC.
Have fun out there Zack. You’ve earned it bud and, uh, the rose goes in the front, Big Guy.