Friday, June 5, 2009
Billy Heywood was a Lucky Kid
Billy Heywood was a lucky kid. He's the first and only 12-year-old baseball manager whose team lost to a 300 game winner. So what if 1994's Little Big League is a standard kids sports movie with unknown acting and a predictable plot? At least Heywood's Minnesota Twins stood their ground against a young power duo of Ken Griffey, Jr. and Randy Johnson for the Seattle Mariners. The loss was a foreshadowing of great baseball moments to come.
Enter June 4, 2009. Johnson, 45, became the 24th Major League Baseball pitcher to enter the illustrious 300 win club. This unofficial band of major league brothers serves as a milestone for contemporary players to strive for while upholding the integrity of the game's legends.
Today's win was Johnson's first attempt at 300. The historic game began after a hefty rain delay of around 22 hours in the nation's capital against the team with the least amount of wins so far this season.
The Washington National's faced Johnson and the San Francisco Giants during a rainy afternoon covered by overcast skies to an audience near 5,000.
Spirits were high despite a low overall attendance. There was history to be made after all!
Never has there been such a variety of MLB paraphernalia in one ball park -- with the exceptions of All-Star Games and unique inter-league match-ups. The Giants, Nationals, Mets, Red Sox, Yankees, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Pirates, Phillies and many others were on the backs of men or the women wearing caps, the kids were even in on the fun. Some donned Cooperstown commemorative memorabilia while others sported modern staples showcasing the MLB players dress code.
The mock-hurricane holding up the start time of the game set the tone of the evening -- anti-climactic but serious.
There was nothing notable or spectacular about this game. It was a standard outing. Fundamentals weren't an issue. The players stuck it out in the rain. There weren't many hits let alone home runs. Both teams played well. One team played better. And that was that.
The 6'10" pitcher is still as lanky as he's ever been but has a glare that burns through the eyes of batters as if they were staring straight into the sun. I almost feel bad for the National's for having to face him without having a real chance to ruin Johnson's special occasion.
DC's not so beloved Nationals are a group of Average Joe's in baseball uniforms. They have some young talent but, in all seriousness, Johnson couldn't have asked for a better team to pitch against during his first attempt at 300 wins. Although fans had their doubts when the National's had the bases loaded (only to squander that shot), the game was set up for Johnson to emerge victorious.
The crowd was small but the baseball faithful were out. It's reassuring to see that people still devote themselves to a game rooted in the American tradition of good times and family.