By CHRIS HOBBS
On the day Hunter Harvey was called to the major leagues by the Baltimore Orioles, only fitting to take a quick trip down memory lane for a more detailed review of May 16, 1987 – the day his father, Bryan, made his debut in The Show against, really, a remarkable number of the game’s all-time greats.
Bryan Harvey, 23 at the time, pitched one inning in relief as the fourth pitcher used in that American League game by the California Angels against the Baltimore Orioles, a game the O’s won 4-2.
Not until you see the credentials of the first batters he faced in the big leagues does it sink in what that must have been like for a country boy from Sherrills Ford who just a few years before had a non-sports job making $7.50 an hour. And who, by the grace of God, then found his calling as a major-league relief pitcher.
Harvey entered in relief of Gary Lucas and was to face the Orioles’ 3-4-5 hitters … all of whom had been Most Valuable Players in the big leagues or at the very least a World Series MVP, and two of them are in Cooperstown.
FIRST BATTER FACED: Cal Ripken, who he struck out swinging. At that time, Ripken had won one MVP (1983) and he’s in the HOF.
SECOND BATTER FACED: Eddie Murray, Class of 2003 HOF, and Harvey got him on a ball to second base.
THIRD BATTER FACED: Fred Lynn, 1975 American League Rookie of the Year who also won AL ROY that year. He worked Harvey for a walk.
FOURTH BATTER FACED: Harvey had thrown two wild pitches and coaxed a fly ball out off the bat or Ray Knight, MVP of the 1986 World Series with the Reds, to finish his inning.
Back then, we had nationally-televised baseball games and, as luck would have it, the game that day was Orioles at Angels and anyone watching got to see Harvey’s debut.
I remember vaguely that I did not get to actually talk to Bryan until a few days later by phone, after having left a message with the Angels media staff to ask him to call me when his schedule would allow.
I’ll never forget talking about the players he faced that day – a Who’s Who of baseball – and how he handled the situation, nervous or not.
The most specific thing I remember talking about was the at-bat with Murray, as Harv explained what he had seen in one inning of big league baseball about the hitters – that all of them could hit.
He told me that the pitch he threw Murray – I believe he said a slider – might have been one of the best pitches he’d ever thrown as far as location, etc., and “he hit that thing like I threw it underhand.”
I do remember Murray, a left-handed hitter, hitting a nearly screaming ball to the second baseman.
The inning may have lasted eight or 10 minutes – perhaps a bit less – but there was something unique sitting there watching it and knowing that was the same kid who, years ago, you’d seen throwing off the mound at Balls Creek Optimist Park.
HobbsDailyReport.com’s Chris Hobbs first met Bryan Harvey when Harvey was a 15-year-old right-hander at Bandys High and has followed his baseball career ever since, including visiting Anaheim, Calif., to report on Harvey when he was with the California Angels. Hobbs has also followed and reported on the baseball careers of Kris Harvey, now pitching coach at Catawba Valley Community College after his own minor league career, and he’s continuing to follow the third Harvey, Hunter, and will have periodic updates on Hunter’s accomplishments in the major leagues or otherwise. If you have memories of the Harvey’s you’d like to also share, please do so via our comments section.