In case you were wondering, pictured above is not the form of a 20-game winner in the Major Leagues. Or even the form of a 5-game winner in Babe Ruth League. It’s actually the form of a guy whose wife, her voice caught on tape accurately describing this soft and high and inside pitch, would say the following words: “That’s why he plays basketball.”
It was basketball, of course, that brought us to LeLacheur Park on July 1 with the Lowell (Mass.) Spinners, the Red Sox Single-A affiliate. Vice President of Communications Jon Goode, who has become renowned with the Spinners for such promotional gems as the world record bubble wrap pop, supplanting hundreds of local youth baseball teams called Yankees with new uniforms and new names (Spinners), and the ever-popular Star Wars Night at the park, invited Hoops For Heroes to join the Spinners family in honoring service men and women.
It was eight of us, just right for the Honda Pilot: The Beautiful Heth, Things 1-3, TBH’s mom, dad, and our niece Kassie, a Salem girl.
It would be three soldiers and me to throw out ceremonial first pitches, and then I was to stand in front of the pitcher’s mound and fire up a ceremonial first free throw … hopefully the 1,500th made of the day. The pitch, well, you know how that went. It was not exactly a Tom Seaver-like drop-and-drive (more of a lean-back-and-pray), and as a result, it was the fourth most accurate of the four first pitches.
As for the foul shot, well, that was clean. With Noah and Mason under the hoop ready to chase any strays, the 1,500th …
… didn’t stray at all, thankfully, and that was that.
The coolest moment of the evening, however, had come about a half-hour before that, when former Red Sox catcher Rich Gedman, now the batting coach for the Spinners, noticed us waiting for the ceremonies to begin next to the Spinners dugout, and grabbed the ball out of Noah’s hands. “Let’s go,” he taunted, and playfully made a post move. Noah was defenseless. Geddy looks like he can still bring it, plus his right leg is about the Noah’s size.
So aside from the wayward pitch, it was all good. Thanks, Jon Goode, and thanks Lowell Spinners.
Two nights later, we had a less successful (percentage-wise) but equally fun trip to Nashua’s Holman Stadium, where the Nashua Silver Knights of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League and a partner of the Spinners, were also hosting a Military Night. This time, there was no first pitch to butcher, so instead I butchered a pair of foul shots — first short, then long — before finally making No. 1,000 of the day and 844,507 in all.
Our seats were in a suite high above home plate, which was all the kids really needed. It didn’t hurt that the game moved right along, and the hometown Silver Knights won in a walk-off in the bottom of the ninth inning … and all before the single best fireworks display we’ve ever seen, just over the center field fence.
Thanks to Brennen Willis and Shane Benedict, little brothers of the Silver Knights’ middle infielders, who took the time to help rebound for a quick 100 in the second and third innings. And thanks again to Jon Goode, and his point man with the Silver Knights, Justin Hannan, for the exceptional accommodations.
Looking forward to the next time.
For more on Hoops For Heroes, with a goal of 1 million made foul shots and $1 million raised for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, visit www.hoopsforheroes.com or contact Dave Cummings at 603-554-7855.