Letter To Sports

Diethrick Park in Jamestown has been the site of countless baseball memories through the years, including one from former area resident Chuck Spinner. P-J file photo by Scott Kindberg

Dear Sports Editor:

On Friday, Aug. 31, San Diego Padres’ relief pitcher Rowan Wick made his major league debut by pitching a one, two, three ninth-inning relief appearance against the Colorado Rockies. His five-year minor league advance to the majors was one of determination and perseverance. He started as a catcher, was converted to an outfielder and ended up as a pitcher! Obviously, his first relief appearance in the majors brought great joy to his family and close friends. In addition, there was a retired teacher in Cable, Ohio who has followed Rowan’s career since 2014 and who was also excited by the news of his call-up to the Padres’ parent club.

That was me.

Back on Friday, June 20, 2014, my wife Patrice and I were Ashville residents and, along with close friends, Craig and Cheryl Phillips, went to Diethrick Park to watch the local Jamestown Jammers play the visiting State College Spikes, the Class A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals.

It was in the seventh inning of that game that Rowan broke his bat in two. Now, there is nothing unusual about a player breaking his bat on a pitched ball. However, this time Rowan still was able to hit the pitch 370 feet over the right field fence for a home run!

In most minor league parks after a game, players have to walk through the lines of fans exiting the stadium to get to their locker rooms. That’s when Rowan, carrying both pieces of his broken bat, passed by me. I happened to stop him and I congratulated him on his home run. I asked Rowan what he had planned on doing with the broken bat. Rowan smiled and said, “I am going into the locker room, take a picture of the bat with my cell phone to send to my college buddies and then tell them the story of the home run. Then I’m coming back out here and presenting you with the bat.”

And, that’s just what Rowan did!

I thanked him and, as the group turned to leave, Rowan called them back and added, “Here, you might as well have the home run ball as well!” I then had him sign the ball, along with both pieces of the bat. And, with that gracious gesture, Rowan had four fans for life!

As we left the park, they came upon Post-Journal legendary sports writer, Jim Riggs. Jim told me that he had been covering baseball games for 39 years and had never seen a minor leaguer, or major leaguer, hit a home run while breaking his bat in two pieces.

We left Chautauqua County in 2014 and moved to Columbus, Ohio, to be closer to our two grandsons. We now have the broken bat and ball proudly displayed in our rec room. I have told the story of that 2014 summer evening home run many, many times, and so there are a number of friends who shared the excitement of Rowan’s first major league appearance. I have also reminisced about the many wonderful nights I have spent with good friends at Diethrick Park.

After Rowan’s successful major league debut, I can now say, “It’s nice to see good things happen to good people!”

Chuck and Patrice Spinner

Cable, Ohio