READING - When the Reading Phillies hosted the Eastern League All-Star events on July 10 and 11, it was the first time the Double-A Mid-Summer Classic was held in Baseballtown since 1974.
That in itself made the two-day festivities a unique and special event.
So when Lewistown native Nick Eversole was given the opportunity to participate in on-field events, amongst future major league players, the decision was an easy one.
Eversole, a to-be senior catcher on the Bloomsburg University baseball team, caught behind the plate for Tuesday's Home Run Derby and was a bullpen catcher for the Eastern Division during Wednesday's All-Star Game.
The opportunity arose for Eversole when a Bloomsburg teammate, who is interning for the R-Phils, was able to get Eversole a role behind the plate for the two-day event. It wasn't paid, but that detail was a minor blip on the radar.
"I would jump at this opportunity every time," Eversole said. "To watch a home run derby from that position, and get to catch bullpen with some guys who are on their way to the majors is an opportunity I may never get."
The two-day ordeal in Reading for Eversole, a 2009 Indian Valley High School graduate, began with one of the most obscure events in professional baseball history.
Reading called it a home run derby, but realistically it was a hitting challenge. It was a strange, but exciting one, that included a full-service alcoholic bar on the infield, and an oyster bar, for patrons standing behind protective netting.
In the outfield, R-Phils interns jumped on trampolines, one was suspended behind the center-field wall from a crane, and another sat in a dunk tank in right field. All were bonus points, if hit.
"Being behind the plate for the derby was really cool," Eversole said. "Seeing the fans, the targets and watching the guys hit balls over 400 feet was awesome to watch from behind the plate.
"It was all so different, but it was an awesome experience being down on the field for that."
The second day got Eversole much more action, since the innovative derby used a two-minute clock for each batter, meaning each batter swung at just about every pitch.
Eversole caught bullpen for the East, which used 10 pitchers in nine innings. Eversole expressed a little concern prior to the All-Star events about catching bullpen and being a part of so many guys' routines.
"These guys are professionals, and I don't want to mess their routines, or mess up in general, before an All-Star game," Eversole said. "These will be the hardest-throwing guys I've ever caught."
Once the game was over, though, and all went well, it ended as a great opportunity and experience.
"The coolest thing for me was just being around the pitchers," Eversole said. "Listening to them talk about their experiences being on the road and playing every day.
"It was a little challenging getting used to catching the guys throwing 95 mph and above, but it was a fun experience for sure."
Eversole, a New York Mets fan, got his icing on the All-Star cake when Binghamton's Eric Campbell, part of the Double-A Mets system, got the walk-off, game-winning hit to give the East a 5-4 win.
"Seeing Campbell deliver with the big hit was great to see being a Mets fan," Eversole said. "He's one of the Mets' top prospects."
All in all, it was a quick, but rewarding, two days.
"I'm really glad I had the opportunity to do all of this," Eversole said. "It's definitely something I'll never forget."