The crowd was thin at McKechnie Field as the Pittsburgh Pirates hosted the Baltimore Orioles in Grapefruit League action. Orioles starter Brad Bergesen had been effective early and the Bucs were down 2-0. As the Pirates players hustled onto the field to begin the fourth inning, a teenager sitting with us stared at the pitchers mound.
His Pirates hat rested high on his head and he uttered two words in such a way that they stuck with me for most of my two-hour, traffic filled drive to Orlando after the game. Just two simple words, but each one was said with such awe and respect.
It wasn’t said in fear. There was no anticipation in his voice. You won’t find him looking for autographs at McKechnie Field from some of Major League Baseball’s most popular players.
And as I looked into his eyes and said, “yes, the park will be sold out…,” the teenager pulled down the brim of his cap and continued to gaze at the mound. “Ah, I can’t wait….” he said.
It was almost as if he was envisioning himself on the mound because for a few moments his intent stare didn’t change. It was the first time in an inning of play that the young man didn’t make eye contact with either one of us as we talked in seats behind the Pirates dugout, just a few feet from that pitchers mound.
Then before play resumed, he leaned forward looked at both of us, excused himself, and as the six foot, six inch, sixteen year old sprang to his feet, he smiled. He extended his right hand and looked Frank Coonelly directly in the eyes and shook his hand. He then reached out his hand for mine and as Luis Heredia locked my hand in his vice, I looked him in the eyes and thought the same thing he did.
Yeh, Pirates fans can’t wait either Luis.
One day soon el caballito. One day soon.
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I wrote that article in March of 2011.
It was pretty cool to see that the Heredia of last spring training (pic below) is something we won’t be seeing this year.