If you’ve been around me when I’ve had a few drinks and we’re swapping stories then this story will invariably come out:
“You know… I struck Matt Holiday out in high school… twice!”
Matt Holiday, for those of you that don’t know, is a professional baseball player who signed a $120 million contract last year with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Matt Holiday… please don’t find me and crush me for embarrassing you because you are a giant giant man
I haven’t done the math but I’m sure he surpasses my yearly salary in just a few plate appearances!
If it was only known how easy it is to strike this guy out… he’d be your friendly neighborhood trash man instead of the new, highly overpaid baseball superstar.
How do I know this? Well, lemme tell you:
I was the starting pitcher for the Ponca City Wildcats in our home opener my senior year. Our opponent was our cross-town rivals: The Stillwater Pioneers.
Damn I’m sexy in my perscription sunglasses
Among the Stillwater Pioneers was the legendary Matt Holiday himself. We knew back then the kind of skills that Matt possessed. We faced Stillwater often and every time we did there would be Major League scouts with radar guns in the stands. They were there to see Matt exhibit his God-given gifts.
The lesser, more inept players like myself whose future consisted of staring at a computer all day to earn money instead of playing baseball for a living saw this as a chance to knock down the golden boy and steal some of his glory for ourselves.
Despite being naturally amped up because this was the first game of my Senior year in front of our home crowd… my adrenaline hit it’s peak when I saw Holiday step into the batters box after the first and second hitters grounded out.
Feeling good at my chances of at least getting out of the first inning unscathed I threw my 82 MPH heat right down the middle. Obviously a mistake pitch. You weren’t supposed to throw an 82 MPH meatball to Matt Holiday because he’d more than likely hit it right back through the back of your head.
Luckily for me his bat never left his shoulder.
“STRIKE ONE!” the umpire yelled.
I realized that I was INCREDIBLY lucky not to have a baseball shaped hole going through the middle of my face. I tried to be a little more accurate on the second fastball…. but I pretty much accidentally threw the same pitch a second time and it went into the exact same location.
Again, his bat never left his shoulder.
“STRIKE TWO!” the umpire screamed.
I stepped on the rubber and prepared my final pitch. The catcher called for a curveball.
Even though I’d been throwing the curveball for several years, I still didn’t have good control over it. I mainly only threw it when the count was working in my favor. In this instance I had the future superstar down in the count so a curveball was to be expected… even a crappy one like mine.
I threw the curve. What materialized out of this pitch was probably the worst curveball I’d ever thrown. The minute it came out of my hand I knew it wasn’t right. Its trajectory would put it in the general vicinity of the last two fastballs I had thrown… only much slower and easier to track. This kind of curveball is called a “hanging” curveball. Not exactly the kind of pitch you’d want to throw to a behemoth like Matt Holiday.
As the ball headed right for the future millionaire’s wheelhouse I imagined one of two things:
1. He would hit the ball and it would shatter my testes into a million unintelligible pieces, or
2. the ball would go down in history as being the furthest ball hit at our baseball field
Luckily for me, neither of those happened.
What I’m assuming happened was that I surprised him with such a tailor-made pitch to deposit somewhere between home plate and the planet Pluto that he wound up swinging with every ounce of strength he had in him… and completely missed.
Strike three. Inning over.
I actually struck Matt out a second time in the game but we eventually lost (as we did often that year) and I never got a call from the Colorado Rockies or the Oakland Athletics or even the Kansas City Royals.
Matt Holiday went on to be drafted by the Colorado Rockies, played in a World Series, played briefly for the Oakland Athletics and eventually became a superstar who just agreed on the contract worth $120 million to play in St. Louis.
Oh yeah… I also beat up Albert Pujols in grade school…
I’ve often wondered if St. Louis knows how easy Matt Holiday is to strike out? I wonder if they would have offered him so much money. If somehow it becomes common knowledge that to strike him out all you have to throw is two subpar fastballs and then a hanging curveball right down the middle then they’re going to be pissed!!
Note to self: Call St. Louis Cardinals and have them pay me hush money. Then, for fear that Matt Holiday will find me and smash my head like a grape, enter the witness protection program.
STILL DON’T BELIEVE ME? WANT PROOF? Well here you go:
You can say it. I’m awesome.