Sometimes a story writes itself
Some people have noted that they think I’m crazy for traveling to all parts of the country for a local baseball story.
And last Friday, I even questioned my own sanity.
There I was stuck in traffic jam after traffic jam on the Massachusetts turnpike trying to get to Manchester, N.H. to do a story on a player (Matt Wright) who was on the disabled list.
But a baseball story is a baseball story.
Being on the Mass turnpike on a Friday night with people heading to Cape Cod, a New England Patroits home exhibition game and the Yankees visiting the Red Sox, it was, needless to say, a nightmare. The traffic held me up from getting to the stadium on time.
What transpired in the next few hours was unbelievable.
I finally got settled in to my seat in the press box and started looking over the game notes. There on page two in small print at the bottom of the page a line read, “Matt Wright activated from DL.”
I thought, well at least now I have something positive to talk about – Matt wasn’t having the best of seasons.
In the game there was a lot of scoring early, but as the innings flew off the scoreboard, it appeared the 4-4 tie after the third inning was going to hold up until late in the game.
One thing did flash through my mind was that maybe if the game went into extra innings, Matt might pitch.
A lot of fans came out to the game to see the fireworks afterwards. As the game slipped past 10 p.m., some the fans started to leave.
Finally in the 12th, Matt was called to the mound. Remember, he hadn’t been on the mound since July 25.
He had a scoreless first inning despite giving up a leadoff double. And the 4-4 tie remained that way through the 13th. Matt’s team, the Fishercats, weren’t exactly looking like a team ready to end the game anytime soon. With the crowd thinning with every tick of the clock, officials announced the cancellation of the fireworks.
Matt continued to mow down Trenton. He worked a scoreless 13th and 14th, giving up only one more hit. He struck out two, walked no one and threw 56 pitches. His average speed was 80.
Finally as the clock neared midnight, Manchester scored a run in the bottom of the 15th.
Think about what the odds were in this game to have all those circumstances come together. Matt comes off the disabled list, the game goes into extra innings, he throws four scoreless innings and gets the win.
And a reporter from his hometown newspaper is at the game.
I have been blessed through the years. The players in this community have been talented enough to not only win as a team, but also on an individual basis, they have gone to perform at high levels. And the paper has given me a chance to report on what occurs on the diamonds.
The two combined have given me a chance to travel from the Pacific Ocean to New England and from the Gulf Coast to the Upper Midwest following local baseball players and teams.
Just like in baseball, timing is everything.
Ray Wilde is a Sentinel correspondent.