- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Long Island native gets last-minute call to pitch for Blue Crabs, beats former team in hometown
By DALLAS COGLEStaff writer
Patrick Osborn was in desperation mode on Monday night shortly before his Southern Maryland Blue Crabs began their three-game series in Long Island.
The Blue Crabs manager had no starting pitcher for Tuesday’s contest.
Right-hander Dan Reichert, the team’s best hurler for much of this season, was originally slated to take the mound Tuesday but received the disappointing news Monday that he would be out for a month due to a fractured left pinkie that required surgery. The injury was sustained on a hard comebacker he absorbed last week.
Osborn’s contingency plan was the hopeful signing of 2003 La Plata High School graduate Daryl Thompson last weekend. But the Hughesville native, an eighth-round draft pick of the then-Montreal Expos, now the Washington Nationals, in the 2003 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, remained in limbo over whether to accept the Blue Crabs contract offer as they arrived in Long Island, still hoping to land with a big league organization after pitching in the majors for the Cincinnati Reds in 2008 and last year.
With Osborn having really nobody else to turn to on his injury-plagued roster — given two starters and two relievers on the disabled list — the skipper admitted to being in scramble mode Monday looking for an arm to start Tuesday’s game.
Then, as if the heavens opened up, an idea Osborn had for a potential candidate quickly turned reality by 6 p.m. Monday — a little more than 24 hours before Tuesday’s first pitch — when former Long Island pitcher Chris McCoy agreed over the phone to be the Blue Crabs last-minute insert on the mound.
“I’m sitting in the clubhouse and I asked [former Long Island player] Matt Padgett if he had [McCoy’s] number,” Osborn recollected, referring to the Blue Crabs infielder who helped him get in touch with McCoy.
Osborn also knew of McCoy because both played together on a highly competitive men’s league team in 2009 and 2010 called the Long Island Storm that plays affiliated minor league teams during spring training in Florida. McCoy is currently playing for the team and was due to start in its game Tuesday until getting the Blue Crabs call.
“A total shocker,” McCoy said of receiving Osborn’s voicemail Monday while he was coaching a 15-Under team, associated with the Storm, before calling back the manager to accept the offer to start Tuesday. “I pay attention to what’s going on [in the Atlantic League]. I like to help teams out because I have friends on them. I was not going to turn down this great opportunity.”
Despite not playing professionally this season previously, the 39-year-old McCoy — a Long Island native who lives just minutes from the team’s Bethpage Ballpark, thus making him easily accessible for the Blue Crabs — was no pushover against his former team that he’s pitched for during its inaugural 2000 season as well as the 2001, 2010 and 2011 campaigns.
In fact, McCoy was the real McCoy.
The righty stymied the dangerous bats of his former teammates in a 5-2 victory for the Blue Crabs. McCoy was the unlikely winning pitcher, yielding only two earned runs while scattering 11 hits over seven innings. The veteran threw 109 pitches, 73 of them for strikes.
“I just love competition, so it was great for me,” said McCoy, who recalled throwing against Osborn a couple years ago during the manager’s final season as a full-time player.
He added with a signature Long Island accent and gritty mentality possessing confidence, “I knew I could beat them. I didn’t know how I was going to do. I don’t think I did as good as I could’ve. I wasn’t on. Of course, I was very happy with it. I don’t know if I’m ever satisfied. I always think I can do better.”
Most importantly for the Blue Crabs, McCoy kept their momentous ride intact — in first place atop the Liberty Division with a second-half mark of 8-4 entering Thursday’s action — as he played a major factor in sweeping his hometown Long Island team. The Blue Crabs completed the sweep with a 14-1 rout of Long Island on Wednesday.
“He’s a great guy and loves to pitch. He did us a huge favor,” Osborn raved of McCoy. “He could’ve probably thrown 150 pitches. He has that type of arm. I expected for him to come out and give me five to six innings but he kept going. I probably could’ve run him out there in the eighth, but I wanted to be conservative with how I used him.”
McCoy added, “It made me feel good to help them and give them the boost they need. They have a great attitude, it’s very much a team concept. [Playing with the Blue Crabs] was really unbelievable. As soon as I got there, they were so polite, saying, ‘You’re helping us out.’ It was not an awkward situation for anybody.”
McCoy’s future with Blue Crabs, past in Long Island
McCoy was only signed as a temporary move on Tuesday as he has no plans of leaving his family and his computer software business in Long Island to pursue the lifestyle of a minor leaguer like he once had.
He was released by the Blue Crabs on Thursday but there is a chance he could travel to Somerset to meet up with the team again during their four-game series through Sunday if Osborn still has not signed a new starter for the rotation.
“There is a possibility he could start Sunday in Somerset,” Osborn said.
McCoy added, “I’d love to pitch in Somerset.”
He also noted that if the Blue Crabs ever needed him for spot starting duty throughout the remainder of the season, he would be interested, relishing his first opportunity to perhaps pitch in Waldorf’s Regency Furniture Stadium.
Despite his affinity for the Blue Crabs, McCoy has a longtime relationship with Long Island. He was a combined 12-14 as a starting pitcher for Long Island in 2000 and 2001.
McCoy was given the honor of starting the first game back for Long Island in 2001 following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Last year as a reliever, he was given the distinction of starting the game marking the 10-year anniversary of Sept. 11.
McCoy considers both starts to be among the highlights of his career given the seriousness around the memorable day.
But after spending the last two years primarily as a bullpen arm and not being able to regularly start as he prefers, McCoy’s frustration with Long Island caused him to walk away from the game until the Blue Crabs came calling.
“They wanted to sign me this year and I was like, “Look, I’m missing my family to sit in the bullpen,’ and financially it doesn’t pay [well],” he said. “When I got this opportunity with the Blue Crabs, I was like, ‘I’ll show them.’
“Even my [old] Ducks teammates were rooting for me [Tuesday]. I think deep down inside, everyone [in the stadium] was rooting for me. I’m a Long Island guy, so I didn’t want to pitch for anyone else [until the Blue Crabs called].”
Osborn added, “That would be tough mentally [for Long Island]. A guy in your own backyard you have a chance to sign but that doesn’t work out, and he pitches well against you.”