By Bayly Poor / PHR National Finalist
Bayly Poor of Union, OR, is a 2011 Aquafina Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit & Run National Finalist. Bayly shared her Pitch, Hit & Run experiences with MLB.com.
Earlier this year I remember thinking about what I would be doing this summer. Only a few things came to mind: hanging with my friends, playing sports, maybe even a trip to the coast. Never did it occur to me that I even had a chance of becoming a National Finalist in the Aquafina MLB Pitch, Hit & Run competition. I never imagined, in all of my life that I would ever achieve what I now have. I just got home yesterday from Phoenix, AZ, and I'm so thankful for everything that's happened because of the PHR program. For the rest of my life I'll remember this amazing adventure.
The first event of the trip was the opening ceremony in the Grand Ballroom of our hotel. Sounds fancy, doesn't it? It was We received many gifts, befriended other finalists, and met the people behind it all. I couldn't have asked for a better first night.
The 11th of July we were able to sleep in a little bit, for the MLB Brunch didn't start until later in the morning. The room we ate in was absolutely huge, there was great food, and I got to share it with my dad. But the best part was the mascots walking around. Personally, the mascots I like are limited to the Seattle Mariners Moose and the Phanatic from the Phillies, but since neither was there at the time, I learned to love them all. From the horse that ate your head, to the baseball head that mimicked your every move, they brought a laugh to everyone that saw them.
After the brunch was the actual competition at Chase Field. I hit 5 out of six pitches, ran faster than anyone, but my hitting was a little off. I finished in 2nd place, but I wouldn't change any of that. I was so happy to have my dad there in the stands, rooting for me the entire competition that I would be proud no matter what place I got. I wouldn't trade my 2nd place for the world.
Though the competition was the reason for the trip, we all had the Home Run Derby later that night on the back of our minds. Soon we would be on National TV, catching golden baseballs, no matter what place we got! Only once in a lifetime do you ever get that opportunity and only 24 out of 600,000 PHR participants get that opportunity this year! When you're waiting for something like that, a few hours can seem like ages before the Derby finally started. But once it did, it more than made up for the wait.
I remember walking onto the field, thousands of eyes on my peers and me as we made our way to our spots. I had forgotten I was wearing my silver owl necklace under my shirt. A short foul ball went up, and I ran almost all the way to shortstop following it, realized it was gone, and started back to the outfield. On my way, I found the chain hanging broken on my shoulder, but the owl charm was gone. Somewhere on the field, from deep right field to shortstop it had fallen on the ground. My owl charm means a lot to me, as I've worn it almost every day for 2 years, and I was determined to find it. Somehow, while they were switching batters, I finally spotted a small silver charm in the grass during the Home Run Derby. In front of thousands of people I found a tiny necklace that now means even more to me than it ever did. And although I almost lost it, that's a story I'm glad I can tell.
The next day was the MLB All-Star Game. The stadium was absolutely packed. It was very nice just to sit in the stands and watch a ball game. I loved just relaxing and enjoying every bit of it. But I was a little disappointed that the American League lost. I love the Yankees and the Mariners, so when they're both on the same team, it's unbeatable. It was a great game to watch!
The last day was a sad one for me. I had so much fun, how could anyone be ready to go home? Once I got on the plane, I realized how much I missed my friends and family, and was so excited to see them. I love them more than anything.
I need to thank some people.First, Abby Lane, Bennett Mayfield, and Matt Hilley: you are the most patient, organized, genuinely nice people I have ever met. I could never do what you do -- truly, one of a kind.
Second, my friends and family: For more than supporting me through the entire experience, I love you guys.
Third, My Dad: I'm so glad you believed in me when I didn't, and helped me the whole way. Thank you.
I have many regrets, as everybody does. But there is not a single thing I've done through this entire journey that I would ever, ever change. Pitch, Hit & Run, thank you.
I remember my dad waking me up one morning in May. He was planning on me doing the Pitch Hit & Run (PHR) Local Competition that day and I was not so sure. I had a little league softball game later that day, so I was outfitted in my horrible purple uniform, but with a little help from my mom, he managed to convince me. Naturally the competition was in Union, my hometown, so plenty of people I knew were there to watch me...I admit, in the beginning, I was a little hesitant to compete, especially when I found out they announced the winners at a school assembly! I was forced to stand in front of the entire student body with a bunch of younger kids. The one upside to that was that my sister, who was also a PHR local winner, was right there with me, sharing the embarrassment of standing in front of my peers. Little did I know that my stage fright was something I needed to overcome, and fast, for the greatest experience of my life was something I would soon share with thousands of people!
I also won at the Sectional Competition and then one day in early June I woke to my Dad talking to my brother in the living room, right outside my bedroom door. My dad was talking especially loud today, which would only mean he was very excited. I had to do some eavesdropping. I didn't hear much before the conversation ended, but I heard enough to come to the conclusion that I was going to the Seattle Mariners PHR Team Championship Competition at Safeco Field. I made it!!! So when my dad heard me moving about in my room, he came in, and his excitement immediately multiplied in me when I realized that this was more than a simple trip to Seattle.
Over 45,000 people went to the Mariners game the day I competed. It didn't matter whether or not I was competing in front of them, not when I first found out about it. That changed the minute I walked onto Safeco Field, in front of so many people. I realized then that if I was competing in front of all of them, I'd probably forget to breathe, but we were just being announced before the game and then would compete on the field after the game. As scared as I was, I couldn't help being completely amazed by the number of people, and the total awesomeness of the stadium. I decided something about baseball that day, for it was my first Major League Baseball game. Unlike hockey or football, baseball is a family thing. The atmosphere of a ball game is so much more inviting, fun and clean vs. that of another sport. In the midst of my anxiety, I admired that. And the people helping with Pitch, Hit & Run that day, the volunteers, those were some of the nicest people I'd ever met.
What a great day, after the game we competed and I won 1st place for my age division at Safeco Field on Father's Day. They gave me a 1st place plaque shaped like home plate. That was amazing to me. I was incredibly honored, and never imagined that I would be in contention for the PHR National Finals. I'm still processing that I'm one of the best girls my age in the country. One of the top three in the nation! Can you believe it? It's early July now and I wonder where the time has gone. I wonder what would have happened if I had refused to enter the competition that morning in May. I wonder where I would be without my Dad.
On the 27th of June, they would announce who advanced to the PHR National Finals on MLB Network. I told myself hundreds of times it wouldn't be me, for I'm the kind of person that would rather doubt myself and receive a great surprise, than overestimate myself and become immensely disappointed. At the same time as the show, I had a volleyball game. I discovered the truth afterwards, when my dad called me. I knew I had advanced to the PHR National Finals in Arizona before I even reached for the phone for my mom's smile said it all. Only after my conversation with my Dad though, did I fully understand what an amazing adventure I had yet to embark upon. There comes a time in everyone's life when they realize that their lives are just beginning. That time for me is now.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.