Posts Tagged ‘Travis Fryman’

Getting To Know New Scrappers Manager David Wallace

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The Mahoning Valley Scrappers have undergone a few changes from last season to this season.  One of the big personnel moves was bringing in David Wallace to be the new manager, replacing Travis Fryman.  Wallace has been, for the most part, in the Cleveland Indians organization his whole career at some capacity but this is his first stint as a frontman.  So far, the new skipper has put up very good signs that he is plenty capable of not only managing his team, but also making personnel decisions, dealing with the media, and keeping positive.  After the first two Scrapper home losses, Wallace was still smiling and optimistic.  The Indians have made a very good choice with Wallace, but many of the fans do not know much about him, so this interview was conducted to better understand Wallace and what makes him tick.

Paneech: I was reading through your biography page and saw that your title last year was “Assistant to The Staff“.  What exactly did you do?

Wallace: That is just a glorified name for a bullpen catcher.  Being the bullpen catcher was a good transitional role for me to go from playing into coaching and to get some valuable experience that I was not able to get as a player.  I was there to do whatever they needed me to do, and during the games, I was in the bullpen warming guys up.

Paneech: Were you assigned to help catchers or relief pitchers, or was it a combination of both?

Wallace: A little bit of both. Before the games, I would alternate turns in the cage throwing batting practice and then during the games, I would catch in the bullpen.  I was there and able to watch Sandy Alomar [Indians First Base Coach] and Manny [Acta] and all of his guys work with the players.  I would ask questions like “Why was this decision made?”, and would learn from what they did.

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Paneech: Was it your decision to bring in Greg Hibbard as a pitching coach and Tony Mansolino as a hitting coach or are those guys assigned to you?

Wallace: They are assigned, the front office in Cleveland puts together all of the coaching staffs in the minors.  I had Greg as a pitching coach when I was a player in two different seasons.  We already had a good working relationship together.  Tony, I met a while back in Nashville at Vanderbilt.  We never played together there, but had met each other through mutual friends.  Our families have been in town, and the three of us will sit there after games and start talking about different things we saw.  Before you know it an hour or two has passed and our families are still waiting for us.

Paneech: Have you talked to Travis Fryman about the Scrappers and what maybe worked or didn’t work for him while he was here?

Wallace: Oh yeah.  Travis has been huge for me. I have had multiple conversations with him from Spring training and on the phone.  He has been a huge help as I tried to get ready for a very hectic first week.  We are signing guys, moving guys to Lake County, moving guys to Arizona, and trying to work the guys we have here.  I was familiar with the area because I played here for the Scrappers in 2002, but the area has changed a lot since then, and he has been a tremendous advisor in that regard too.  He is a guy I will continue to lean on and ask questions, not only about baseball, but also about life, because he is a great life coach as well.

Paneech: Why and how did your playing career end?

Wallace: In 2008, I was in Triple A with the Nationals, Cleveland had traded me there.  I was backing up their catcher and there was actually a better opportunity for me to get some playing time in the Washington farm system, which at that time, was in Columbus.  The Indians traded me there, kind of as a favor, so I could get more playing time.  I didn’t get called up there and felt in my heart that it was time to move on.  I think I could have hung around, and maybe in a year, the planets might have all aligned, and I would have gotten called up for a cup of coffee.  At that point it would have been tough to put together a solid career as a player.  I talked with Ross Atkins [Cleveland Indians Developer of Player Personnel] about this opportunity and to go into the coaching and player development part of this.  I miss playing, but I don’t regret my decision.

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Paneech: Is this a big change from your hometown of Jacksonville?

Wallace: I don’t feel like it is really that big of a change for me.  I played long enough that I know what to expect.  I have spent more time in Ohio at Cleveland, here, Lake County, Columbus, and Akron, than I have in the five years I have been in Jacksonville.  It’s a bigger adjustment for players coming from the West Coast.

Paneech: Past coaches have had things that they could not tolerate.  For example, Tim Laker couldn’t tolerate the media, Travis Fryman couldn’t tolerate showboating and one-upmanship. What is it that you will not tolerate?

Wallace: (laughs)  I would say lack of respect.  Whether it is a lack of respect for the game, which has given us all so much, or lack of respect for teammates and staff, or anyone that you come across.  No one person is better than the others and that includes me, and I tell the players that.  That would be the one thing, a lack of respect,  that I will not put up with.

One Word Answers:

Favorite Meal of The Day: Breakfast.

Favorite Non-Sports Show On TV: This is embarrassing, but Glee.

Best Baseball Movie Ever Made: Bull Durham.

Biggest Phobia: Frogs.

Favorite Vacation Destination: Home, but I would like to go back to New Zealand.

Junk Food: Junior Mints.

Worst Habit: Not making the bed.

Favorite Musician: George Strait.  I love country music.

Animal At The Zoo You Most Resemble: Hopefully, a lion.

Prediction For The Season: I stay away from predicting wins.  I will, however, predict that we go out and play hard every night.

Scrappers Show Many New Faces This Season

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There is one predictable group of people you can never expect to see return to Eastwood Field from year-to-year, the players.  Some Mahoning Valley Scrappers get promoted during the season, some are reassigned for better or for worse, and some are no longer in the Major League Baseball system anymore.  Because the Scrappers are a short-season, Low-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, they usually get the majority of the Tribes draft picks from less than two weeks ago.  You can have a favorite player, but usually only for a year, then you have to wait to find out who your new favorite Scrapper will be next season.

There are three returning Scrappers from last season on the 2011 roster.  Kevin Fontanez (waiving in yellow shirt, top photo) was only 19 last season and got some valuable experience at second base.  Moises Montero battled injuries and played through probably more pain than he should have last season.  Kirk Wetmore, a 2009, 11th round draft pick, was in the starting rotation for awhile last season but struggled down the stretch.  All three of these players are promotable but have been kept as Scrappers to continue to develop.

“I worked out hard in the offseason and feel like I can really have a good year”, commented Montero.  ”Last season, I was pretty banged up and toughed it out, but I was not one-hundred percent for most of the season.”

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Then the unexpected new faces started popping up everywhere.  Travis Fryman accepted a promotion to be a roving instructor for the Indians.  This opened the door for new head coach, David Wallace (above), a former Scrapper himself.  I admired the way Fryman played in his day, but I really took a liking to his personality and managing style over the past two seasons.  Wallace has very big shoes to fill.

Wallace brings Greg Hibbard on as a pitching coach and Tony Mansolino to be his new hitting coach.  Hibbard pitched in the majors for six seasons, mostly with the Chicago White Sox.  Gone is pitching coach Ken Rowe, a legend in the press box for his 45 second walks to the mound, the 8 seconds of dialogue he would give the pitcher, and the fifty-five second return flight back to the dugout.

Jordan Taylor also has big shoes to fill as the new general manager.  Taylor, who learned plenty under the guidance of former GM Dave Smith, is capable of doing great work with his staff.  He has already been very accessible, as Smith was, to any requests or questions anyone has posed.

If you catch the games on the radio, you will not hear last years voice of the Scrappers, Dave Lubich, anymore.  His internship is over making way for newcomer Grant Tunkel.  Tunkel had some good experience with the Jamestown Jammers last season and should be an entertaining play-by-play announcer for the Scrappers.

One constant thing that has not changed in 13 years is the Scrappers Backers Club.  With colorful personalities like Larry Snyder and Gail Drushel (below, with microphone) leading the way, the Scrappers Backers do so many good things behind the scenes.  It might be the hardest working fund-raising bunch in sports.

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Wednesday evening the Scrappers Backers gave scholarships to Hayley Goist of Columbiana, Richard Selep of Southington Chalker, Taylor Ward and Aaron Oblisk from Sebring.  They also held a picnic for all season ticket holders, Scrappers Backers members, and the 2011 roster of coaches and players.  There was a silent auction, an autograph session, and an introduction of all team members and coaches.  The neat part was watching the players interact, most of them only seeing each other for a few minutes to that point.

The Scrappers kick off the 2011 season at home Friday night against Jamestown, which happens to be fireworks night as well.  Should be a packed house for the opener!  Call the box office for ticket availability at 330-505-0000.

Scrappers Offense Explodes, But Jamestowns Blows Up A Smidge More

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Being in last place means the end of a season can’t come soon enough regardless of what sport.  For the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, the spoiler role made a final game worthwhile, and they responded by having one of their most productive days of offense in 2010.  The game was entertaining and the outcome was in doubt until the ninth inning, but the Scrappers ended up on the short end of the stick, dropping a hard fought verdict to the Jammers.

Jamestown jumped out to a 1-0 lead when Marcell Ozuna knocked in Pedro Mendoza in the top of the first inning.  The Scrappers responded in the home half with a run of their own.  Tyler Cannon trotted home on a passed ball by Jammers starter Adam Veras.

In the third inning, Ozuna had yet another RBI against the Scrappers when he hit a sac fly knocking home Brent Keys.  Mark Canha then hit a three-run bomb to put Jamestown up 4-1.

Uncharacteristically, Mahoning Valley then put together a seven run bottom of the fourth, an explosion they must have saved for their last game.  Jesus Aguilar (pictured, top) connected for a grand slam home run knocking in Cannon, Nick Bartolone and Giovanny Urshela.  Brian Heere got in on the fun when he singled home Diego Seastrunk.  Anthony Gallas capped off the rally with a two-run homer, his first as a Scrapper, to raise the score to 8-5 in favor of the Scrappers.

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Kyle Smith entered the game in the top of the sixth inning.  After loading the bases, Mendoza lifted a bloop that RF Kevin Rucker dove after.  The ball landed just fair and bounced out of play for a ground rule double and two runs were plated to cut the lead to 8-7 in favor of the Scrappers.

The Jammers scored a tying run in the eighth inning when Mendoza singled off of JD Goryl.  Dale Dickerson came in to relieve Goryl and inherited runners on first and third.  Ozuna doubled off of the left field wall to give the Jammers a 9-8 lead.  Ryan Fisher then hit a long sac fly to increase the lead to 10-8.

In the bottom of the eighth, Gallas opened the inning with a double.  Aaron Fields bunted Gallas to third.  Bartolone got hit in the batting helmet to put guys on first and third.  Cannon doubled home a run to make it 10-9.  Urshela was intentionally walked.  This set the bases up for Aguilar with the bases loaded.  Aguilar was 3-3 in the game, but in this particular at bat, he smoked a two-hopper right at the shortstop for the 6-4-3 inning-ending double play.

After the game, Travis Fryman reflected on the season.  “Collectively, it was ugly.  We were the worst-hitting team in the league, finished in last place, and finished third to last in pitching.  There is no way to sugar coat that stuff.  On the upside, Giovanny Urshela has a bright future.  Carlos Moncrief has turned into a great story and a prospect, Jesus Aguilar got hot at the end, there were positives and good things despite the record.”

I will be posting the Scrappers organizational report card later this week.

Scrappers Score Four Runs But Commit Five Errors In Loss

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The Mahoning Valley Scrappers were playing for pride and individual development.  The Jamestown Jammers were playing for a playoff spot in the New York-Penn League Playoffs.  The weather was colder than what it had been all Summer and the Scrappers were definitely in the Christmas spirit, committing 5 errors and ultimately losing, 6-4.

Manager Travis Fryman said this game was hard on the eyes.  ”We saw how sloppy things can get.  This was game 74 and it was the worst game I had to watch all year.  It was a horrible ball game out there tonight and I could count at least nine defensive mistakes.”

Trailing 1-0, the Scrappers put up three runs in the bottom of the third inning.  Two of the three runs were unearned as Aaron Fields, and Brian Heere scored on errors.  Giovanny Urshela and Jesus Aguilar had RBI hits in the inning which put the Scrappers up 3-1.

Not much for receiving gifts, the Scrappers returned all of the favors in the top of the fourth.  Jamestown collected three runs on two Scrapper errors and a wild pitch.  Aaron Dudley delivered the big blow on an RBI-double.  Each team added a run over the last four innings, and when the dust settled, Jamestown made less errors than the Scrappers and won 6-4.

Season finale is Sunday, first pitch is at 5 p.m.  There will also be a legends of pro wrestling show after the game featuring Doink The Clown, Scott Steiner, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, and Greg “The Hammer” Valentine.

Durham Leads Doubledays Past Scrappers, 3-1

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It was a familiar scenario for the Mahoning Valley Scrappers. The formula this season has been for a starting pitcher to throw well and then hope the bullpen can hold on.  The Scrappers starters all have respectable ERA’s.  The formula held true as Michael Goodnight (above) pitched five solid innings of scoreless baseball and struck out six Auburn Doubledays before exiting the game with a 1-0 lead.  True to the script, the offense struggled and the bullpen could not hold the lead in a 3-1 loss.

The Scrappers got the first run of the game in the second inning when DH Kevin Rucker reached base and scored on a Moises Montero ball that should have been caught.  Doubledays LF Yeico Aponte ran too far in on a routine fly ball and Rucker trotted home uncontested to give the Scrappers a 1-0 lead.

JD Goryl started the sixth inning for the Scrappers.  Jon Fernandez started the inning with a double.  Giovanny Urshela (below) had an uncharacteristic error to put men on first and second with nobody out.  Goryl was hit hard but in his defense, could have gotten out of the inning unscathed.  As the law of averages would have it, Auburn pushed a run across to tie the game.

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The other JD, JD Reichenbach, came out to start the eighth for the Scrappers.  The big lefty was pumped up and threw hard, in the eighth.  The ninth inning however, was a different story as Lance Durham connected for a monstrous two-run homer to right field to put Auburn up 3-1.

The Scrappers put together a ninth inning rally showing some heart.  Rucker and Montero had back-to-back singles for Mahoning Valley.  Aaron Fields bunted to move the runners to second and third.  Trent Baker struck out to set the stage for Nick Bartolone who walked.  Enter Carlos Moncrief with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth.  Moncrief was 0-4 in the game with three strikeouts coming into this key at bat.  Moncrief fouled a ball inches off of the left field line that would have, at the very least, tied the game.  On the next pitch, Moncrief whiffed and the Scrappers lost, 3-1.

Travis Fryman said the game indeed followed a pattern of predictability.  “Our lack of run production all year has forced our pitching staff to be perfect. By putting a young pitcher in those types of pressure situations, they are more likely to make mistakes.  We are just concentrating on development of the guys and we saw that with the effort from Goodnight tonight.”

Pitching On Menu For Restaurant Night, Scrappers Win, 4-2

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The Auburn Doubledays came into Niles winners of their last four games.  Conversely, Mahoning Valley had lost their last five contests.  Baseball really is a game of momentum and streaks.  One consistent for Mahoning Valley has been the effort put forth by SP Mike Rayl.  Rayl had good stuff and struck out eight in five innings for the Scrappers.  What hasn’t happened much this season, is good relief pitching following a good start.  Julio Ramirez and Clayton Ehlert provided solid bullpen efforts as Mahoning Valley won to end both streaks, 4-2.

The Scrappers put the games first run up when Jesus Aguilar singled to start the second inning.  Aguilar moved to second on a passed ball and later advanced to third on a Tyler Cannon bunt.  With one out, Diego Seastrunk drove the ball far enough to left field to allow Aguilar to tag from third and give the Scrappers the early 1-0 lead.

In the top of the third, Auburn responded with a series of plays that typified what kind of season the Scrappers have had.  CF Jonathan Jones was up with a man on third and nobody out.  Jones hit a ball to second to score the runner.  Kevin Fontanez pulled Carlos Moncrief off of the base with the throw.  Moncrief appeared to tag Jones before he reached first, but safe was the call. Jones stole second with the throw going wide right and into center.  While advancing to third, the throw appeared to beat Jones to the base, but again, he was called safe.  The next batter, Gustavo Pierre, singled to knock home Jones and put Auburn ahead 2-1.

The Scrappers loaded the bases in the fourth on a single and a pair of walks.  Cannon got an RBI on a fielders choice pushing Giovanny Urshela home with the tying run.  Seastrunk drew a walk with one out to reload the bases.  Aguilar scored on a wild pitch to give the Scrappers a 3-2 lead.  Fontanez walked off of new pitcher Zach Anderson.  Trent Baker then popped out to first.  Nick Bartolone had a good at-bat before drawing a walk forcing home another run for a 4-2 Scrapper lead.  Moncrief got robbed by Doubledays LF Marcus Brisker who made a beautiful diving catch to end the inning.  One hit, three runs, 4-2 Scrappers.

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The score stayed 4-2 in favor of Mahoning Valley behind three solid innings of relief from Julio Ramirez.  Clayton Ehlert pitched the ninth for the save.  Afterwards, Manager Travis Fryman praised the good pitching.  ”This is the best outing that Ramirez has had.  We tried to stretch him to three innings once before and the results were not real good.  We were apprehensive to leave him in there but he was working easy tonight.  It was an ugly ball game and they gave us plenty of opportunities to win. They [Auburn] might be the hottest team in our division over the past couple of weeks, so we’ll take it.”

Scrappers Do Little Right In 10-1 Loss

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The Mahoning Valley Scrappers have had a disastrous season statistically.  The team batting average heading into Thursday’s game with State College was barely above the Mendoza line at .233.  Offense has been the issue all season.  How fitting that on reality TV night, that the Scrappers got voted off their own island (lost), got gonged, and couldn’t dance (5 errors) to save their lives.

State College tallied a run in the opening half of inning one when Adalberto Santos hit into a double play allowing Drew Maggi to score from third.  Maggi reached base on a Scrappers error.  Mahoning Valley responded in the bottom of the first when Carlos Moncrief walked and moved to third on Jesus Aguilar’s double.  Diego Seastrunk then hit a one-out sac fly plating Moncrief to tie things up.

Taking a 2-1 lead into the fifth, State College scored again.  Maggi walked, advanced to second on a groundout, stole third, and scored when Scrapper catcher Diego Seastrunk’s throw got by 3B Tyler Cannon and scooted into left.  Santos kept hurting the Scrappers as he homered to left-center to jack the lead up to 4-1.

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Kyle Smith started the eighth inning and mixed walks with hit batters to load the bases and allow State College a couple of freebies. Without recording an out, Smith was yanked.  Clayton Ehlert inherited the bases loaded, nobody out situation and one grand slam later, there was nobody on base and the Scrappers tailed 10-1.  Six runs on two hits in the inning.

Giovanny Urshela should be returning to the Scrapper lineup soon which would definitely give the starved offense a much needed boost.  Manager Travis Fryman talked about Urshela’s progress.  ”He looked good today and was cleared a couple of days ago to resume full workouts.  If he is symptom-free he will start playing again the first game in Auburn.”  Urshela has been sidelined since August 13 when he was plucked on the knuckle by a pitch.  Despite missing so many games, Urshela still leads the team in batting average and RBI.

Fryman also said that Jordan Casas would be out the rest of the season.

State College Bests Scrappers 3-1

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With Youngstown State and Penn State preparing to open their respective football seasons next weekend, it would only be fitting that a Youngstown area team played a Penn State area team in another sport.  With neither the Scrappers or Spikes in the playoff hunt, the game would be played for pride.  The Scrappers entered the contest winning three of their last four,  but could not muster enough offensive firepower to win this one, falling 3-1 at home.

State College drew first blood in the top of the first inning.  Adalberto Santos tripled into the left-centerfield gap.  Scrappers starter Michael Goodnight (pictured) should have gotten out of the inning unscathed, but a Kevin Fontanez error allowed Santos to scamper home with the opening run.  In the second inning, Santos walked and made his way around to score again on a clean single off the bat of Matt Curry.

The score stayed 2-0 in favor of State College until the top of the seventh.  The Spikes added a run to their lead on Matt Curry’s RBI single.  In the bottom of the seventh, Fontanez tripled to drive home Brian Heere to get the Scrappers on the scoreboard and cut the State College lead to 3-1.

For the Scrappers, it was another rough night on offense.  The run scored gives them a grand total of two in the last 18 innings.  With the loss, the Scrappers fell to 28-37.  The Spikes improved to 31-33 and inched closer to a .500 mark of respectability.  These two teams will play the rubber match of the three game series on Thursday.

Scrappers Implode In The Ninth Inning, Lose 8-7

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Momentum and inspiration are a lethal combo.  Last night, Mahoning Valley seemed to have found the instruction manuals for the bats they use.  Tonight ,Luke Holko was honored before the game which had everyone’s heart pumping.  The end result was an 8-7 loss as the bullpen blew a four-run ninth inning lead.

Manager Travis Fryman was as frustrated as I have ever seen him after the game.  “This was brutal”, said Fryman, “This home stand we swung the bats extremely well.  Our situation is that we have problems with guys throwing strikes out of the bullpen, and if they can’t throw strikes then they shouldn’t be playing baseball.  That’s the bottom line, and if they can’t throw strikes then we will have to find somebody who can.”

Mahoning Valley had their most productive inning of the season when the offense exploded for six runs in the bottom of the second. Chase Burnette doubled to start things off.  Jesus Aguilar then walked.  Diego Seastrunk then nailed the Tim Adleman offering to right field for his third homer of the season to put the Scrappers ahead, 3-0.  Dan DeGeorge reached via error and Aaron Fields walked.  Carlos Moncrief singled driving in one and new signee and sixth round pick, Nick Bartolone, singled knocking in two more. The half-inning went 51 pitches.

Aberdeen broke through in the fourth as David Anderson hit his second bomb in as many nights.  This one traveled an estimated 430′ to dead center and hit about halfway up the screen.  It was all that Owen Dew would surrender in his five innings.  For Dew, it was nice to finally get some run support in one of his starts.

Aguilar tacked on an RBI-single in the 7th inning.  Giovanny Urshela led off the inning with a ground rule double.  Urshela advanced to third on a Burnette groundout before trotting home with the seventh run of the game for the Scrappers.

Gregorio Rosario pitched two innings of scoreless relief for Mahoning Valley.  Julio Ramirez didn’t fare as well as he surrendered a run and left the bases loaded with one out for Dale Dickerson. Dickerson was very effective and recorded the two needed outs to minimize the damage in the inning.  Things didn’t go as well in the ninth for Dickerson as the first couple of batters reached base. JD Goryl entered and could not hold the lead as the Iron Birds rallied to put up five runs and take an 8-7 lead in the final frame.

The Scrappers play Aberdeen again Monday afternoon at 1 p.m. on Senior Citizen Day.  Anyone who held a ticket from the Lebronfire postponement will receive free admission with their receipt from the August 5th game.

Scrappers Sign Luke Holko To One Day Contract To Celebrate His Recovery

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Last season was the most successful in Mahoning Valley Scrappers history.  Shy of winning the Penn League Championship, the year could have been called nearly perfect, except for one unfortunate incident.  In the early innings of the second game of a doubleheader, Luke Holko was struck in the back of the head by a foul ball.  Holko made his triumphant return to Eastwood Field on Sunday, as GM Dave Smith announced that Luke would be signed to an honorary one day contract.

He is still a little wobbly when he walks and they had to put some botox in one his legs for balance purposes, but all-in-all he is doing great“, remarked Chad Holko.  ”Nicole was driving with him in the car a couple of weeks before Christmas, and he was eating Goldfish Crackers or Cheerios, and he uttered the word ‘more’.  It made the holidays much more fun.”

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Young Luke seemed a bit overwhelmed at times.  In the picture above, Travis Fryman greeted Holko in the dugout during batting practice.  Luke was later introduced as he was escorted to the mound by his parents to throw out the first pitch.  The crowd was very supportive and provided a standing ovation.  Luke then made his pre-game pitch, which was a strike.  The paramedics who worked on and transported Luke that night were here and given props.

Fryman commented on the Holko situation.  “We have been following it closely for eleven months.  My wife and I have their website marked in our favorites and check the status several times a week.  We have spoken with Chad and Nicole and have stayed in contact.  It’s miraculous how good he looks, he looks like a normal four-year old boy and that is fantastic to see.”

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There was a lot of emotion shown as people watched Luke’s every move.  For what the family has been through over the past eleven months, Sunday was a celebration of what good humanity and prayer can resolve, even in the bleakest of situations.  I also praise the Holko family for never holding a grudge against the Scrappers for what happened.  It is an amazing story and Chad Holko said it best, “It’s amazing how something like this makes you realize what is really important in life”.

It should also be noted that the visiting team, the Aberdeen Iron Birds,  participated in the pre-game festivities and presented Luke with an autographed ball.