Derrick Mitchell, Chasing the Dream and Catching It

When you watch as much baseball as Ross and I do, and we guesstimate we saw somewhere between 70-75 baseball games last season alone. (That’s both spring training and regular season.) You get invested in a player. With some, they’ll catch your eye and stay there.

We actually started watching Derrick Mitchell with interest, back in 2010. He was playing with the Clearwater Threshers. Ross and I came down at the end of the season and took to sitting out along the third base line, out by the outfield. Clearwater doesn’t draw that well in the heat of late summer so we had an entire section to ourselves. That night, Derrick was in center and he ran to left center to catch a ball. He lept up and snagged it from over the fence and brought it back. I was amazed by the height he got to to capture that ball. That same week, Derrick caught all three balls in one inning, providing the defense for the entire team.

Since we were the only ones out there, we took to saying hello and I got Derrick’s autograph before we went home.

We ran into him in the spring of 2011 and he remembered us. From then on, we made it a point to chat and to try to make as many Reading Phillies games as we could manage.

We stayed in touch and this spring, we were pleased to hear that Derrick got THE CALL. We found out last night that he was scheduled to play today in a split squad Phillies game against the Detroit Tigers.  Ross and I decided to scrap our other plans and do what we could to make the game.

We got up early and headed to the box office and got lucky and scored front row seats that had been returned to the box office.

Batting practice began. Derrick took his turns and CRUSHED 5 or 6 of them right out of the park! He was hitting as well as Hunter Pence had the week before.  He rattled chairs as several of the balls hit the chairs in the area just below the Frenchy’s Tiki Bar.

After watching Derrick hit 3 or 4 out a gentleman behind me exclaimed, “That 22 (Derrick) can really hit!”

One of the balls went so far out it hit the BBQ hut that sits just inside the fence at the back of the park. It hit the roof of the hut with such force I could hear it all the way back at our seats that were close to the dug out. What was amazing is that later, Ross went out there to get a beer and chatted with the hostess about the ball…eventually, he talked her into giving him the ball that Derrick hit. He then brought it to me. Proof that Derrick crushed the ball is that the ball was tattooed with the pattern of the thatched roof. (As seen below)

Derrick Mitchell's Tattooed Baseball

I was happy to add this to my Derrick Mitchell Out of the Park Ball Collection that I started in Harrisburg last summer. (To read that Blog and to see the ball and the video of the out of the park home run, click HERE)

He talked to Mike Schmidt while taking batting practice.

Mike Schmidt and Derrick Mitchell

When he came over on his way back to the the locker room after practice, I gave him a Major League Baseball to sign. 🙂

Derrick Mitchell Autographed Major League Baseball

After we talked for a moment, Derrick was swarmed with people asking for his autograph. It was amazing to imagine that 2 years ago, it was Ross and I alone asking for his autograph and this morning, there were dozens, clamoring and shoving just to have him sign their gear. He fit in, just like a major leaguer.

Derrick Mitchell Congratulates the Honorary First Pitchers

Derrick was also picked to be the catcher for the honorary first pitches before the game.

The game started. To be frank, I was nervous. I wanted nothing more than for Derrick to get in the game and just be ok, to not do anything that would be less than spectacular. Ross ever the pessimist, kept telling me to not get my hopes up, that this was the first time he’d been asked up that he may just not get a chance to play.

So we waited.

Then in the eighth, out he ran, right into right field. In that first inning, he got a put out!

Derrick Mitchell takes right field for the first time

To see video of his first catch, click HERE

Then in the ninth, he came up to bat.

Derrick Mitchell's First At Bat

To see video of his first at bat, click HERE or to see uninterrupted HD video of his first at bat from when he was on the on deck circle until when he gets to first…click HERE

He got a hit!

He eventually made it to third (and to see that video, click HERE) before Jiwan James took strike three to end the inning.

While the game ended in a tie, our rookie had an impressive first game, a total of 2 put outs and a hit with one at bat. So how many other rookies do you know that start their major league career with a .1000 batting average?

Derrick Mitchell Bats .1000

It was so amazing to see him chase his dream and catch it. Rightfully, he was a happy guy after the game. I just want to say congratulations to him for catching the dream.

Derrick Mitchell First Major League Game

EDITED TO ADD: Please read this “Thank You” to all of you…

25 thoughts on “Derrick Mitchell, Chasing the Dream and Catching It

  1. Russell Williams March 12, 2012 / 1:28 am

    Nice work Gail. Leaps and bounds better than anything I have ever put on the fan page.

    • Baseball Betsy March 12, 2012 / 12:03 pm

      Thanks! I used to be a writer for the PA House of Representatives, so I’m a former “pro”. I’m one of those people who “NEED” to write. It’s what I love.

  2. Cheryll O. March 12, 2012 / 5:32 am

    Nice! I was watching too! Very excited for him! He did GREAT!

  3. rick mitchell March 12, 2012 / 10:20 am

    Very Very cool……..

  4. rick mitchell March 12, 2012 / 10:24 am

    Thanks for all the support and the great job you do for Derrick, I know he appreciates it.

    Rick Mitchell

    • Baseball Betsy March 12, 2012 / 12:05 pm

      He’s a great guy and we really enjoy watching him. I’m just so happy that he’s doing well. I’m glad I can be there to support him, he really deserves it.

  5. Bob Corstange March 12, 2012 / 11:01 am

    Thanks for the article. We are from Derricks hometown (Paw Paw), and try to see him in spring training and once during the regular season. Unfortunately this year, we were in Florida before he started playing. We were able to catch up with him for a few wings at Hooters though. Thanks again for the excellent article. Hopefully we will see him in Philly this summer.

    • Baseball Betsy March 12, 2012 / 12:15 pm

      I hope he plays in Philly as well. My husband and I hope we can fly back to Philly to see him. We recently moved full time to Clearwater so we’ll likely only be able to see a few games when we go back North for a week or two.

  6. Judith Porth March 12, 2012 / 12:23 pm

    Gail, thank you so much for writing about Derrick. I felt like we were right there beside you watching his success. We’ve been lucky enough to watch Derrick and his brother, Andrew, grow up from day one. Both boys became exceptional young men. Please continue to keep us posted. Take care.
    Judy Porth

    • Baseball Betsy March 12, 2012 / 6:07 pm

      Thank you for the kind comments. Derrick definitely is exceptional. I’ve enjoyed watching him chase the dream. He’s a good guy. I’ll keep posting…:-)

  7. Uncle Jim March 12, 2012 / 12:56 pm

    Great article on a great kid. Thanks for the support. Say hey to Popsicle (Derrick) – he’ll know and give you that big smile.

    • Baseball Betsy March 12, 2012 / 6:06 pm

      Thanks! I appreciate the positive feedback! I’ll say hello to Popsicle for you when I see him later in the week.

  8. rick mitchell March 12, 2012 / 1:12 pm

    Betsy I would like to get a copy of that pictur with Derrick And Mike Schmidt if possible if you could send me a copy ill pay you for it Rick Mitchell , or just give it to Derrick…. Thanks Derricks Dad.

    • Baseball Betsy March 12, 2012 / 6:05 pm

      Don’t worry about it, I’ll see that you get a copy of it…I’ll also be giving Derrick a CD of all the pictures I took that day sometime this week, That way he can have them all. I’ll see he gets and extra for you as well.

    • Baseball Betsy March 13, 2012 / 4:38 pm

      Rick, I gave Derrick copies of the picture for you. I also gave him a cd with all the good pictures I took that day—and a copy for you. I also made him a DVD…a video photo album set to music—and a copy for you. Hope you like them!

  9. Kathryn Breighner March 12, 2012 / 8:43 pm

    Derrick is truly the boy next door to us in Harbor Springs. This gave me goose bumps and nearly brought us to tears. Thanks for writing this so that we felt like we were there.

  10. Clint Colborn March 13, 2012 / 1:50 am

    Great to see Derrick continue to do well in sport’s. He has character that the Phillies organization can be proud of. As a coach, he was always the first person to shake your hand after the game, and later on as a friend, he would always take the time to find you and say hi. Congrats to “D”, keep up the great work!

  11. Russell Williams March 13, 2012 / 8:43 pm

    You going to post the video somewhere?

    • Baseball Betsy March 13, 2012 / 9:03 pm

      working on it…..have to figure out how to do it here…..
      hopefully later tonight

  12. Terry Floyd March 15, 2012 / 12:32 am

    Betsy
    Great write-up of Derrick, I remember Derrick playing on our U-14 Travel Soccer team and how amazed I was at his athletic ability. He could run, jump, and out maneuver everyone on the field, It’s good to see to see he made it to the “Show”, and that you captured it with pictures and video for him! I hope you can continue to keep us folks back home updated on his journey.
    Thanks, Terry Floyd
    Paw Paw, MI

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