By Jackson White /PHR National Finalist
Jackson White, of Charleston, S.C., is a 2013 Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit & Run presented by Scotts National Finalist. Jackson shared his Pitch, Hit & Run experiences with MLB.com.
On my way to New York, I was completely exhausted. The night before my flight, I had a baseball game that was delayed because of rain and I got home after midnight. We arrived in NY after only three hours of sleep, and were greeted early the next morning at the airport by Kate from PH&R. We took a taxi to the hotel where we met Abbey and Bennett who told us that we had time to go do some sightseeing, so we visited Times Square and made a quick stop in the Hershey store.
The first evening, all 24 national finalists and their families were invited to a Welcome Reception at a restaurant close to the hotel. We had the entire restaurant to ourselves. We took pictures, ate, and listened to speakers talk about baseball. One was Harold Reynolds from the MLB Network! As we were leaving to go back to the hotel, each of us was given a bat bag filled with amazing gifts from Scotts and MLB. I really liked all of the other finalists and their families, so I was excited about how the trip was going to go.
On the first full day, we got to eat breakfast at the Grand Hyatt. There were many Major League mascots that were there. I got to take a picture with Wally the Green Monster from the Boston Red Sox! Then we went to MLB Fan Fest and got to play all of the fun games and saw cool memorabilia from former baseball legends and current MLB All-Stars.
The whole day, I was nervous about the competition and the time had finally come. We arrived at Citi Field and started the competition with many MLB All-Stars and some of their children around the field warming up. While we were competing, Clayton Kershaw and Matt Harvey walked by as we were competing. I didn't do as well as I had in the team competition, and came in third. I was disappointed, but knowing that I would get to shag fly balls during the MLB Home Run Derby made it better! During batting practice for the Home Run Derby I got a home run ball that Prince Fielder hit into the bullpen where we were standing. Alex Gordon, Derek Holland, and Jason Kipnis signed baseballs and took a group picture with all of us. I did not catch any fly balls on the field but I got to watch many go over my head as I was standing in the outfield. It was exciting watching Yoenis Cespedes hit 17 home runs in one round, many flying into the third deck!
The third day, we went to Fan Fest and had a trophy ceremony on the diamond, and got huge trophies with baseballs mounted on the tops. Next, we went to the MLB Fan Cave. It was cool playing pool downstairs with the other finalists in the basement of the MLB Fan Cave and seeing the dirt from all the Major League fields before heading off to the All-Star Game. On the bus-ride, they announced a sportsmanship award for the boys and girls. I won it for the boys and got a really cool blue and orange Mets MLB All-Star 2013 bat!
I was very excited to go to the All-Star Game, and to see my favorite players, especially David Ortiz and Manny Muchado.
My expectations going into the Pith Hit & Run nationals trip were pretty high, but all the cool stuff I got to do and all the people I met blew those expectations out of the water! I'm really thankful for Scotts and all the people with the Pitch Hit & Run for giving me the opportunity for a trip of a lifetime!
Hi, I am Jackson White, from Charleston, S.C., and am 14 years old. I have competed in the MLB Pitch, Hit & Run competition ever since I was first eligible as a 7 year old. In the early years, I would always win the local competition and make it to the sectional competition, but fail to make it to the Atlanta Braves Team Championship competition. However, when I was 12, I was surprised to receive a letter notifying me that I had scored high enough to compete Atlanta.
Atlanta in 2011 was exciting. My dad had an accident and we were in the emergency room all night with no sleep, but I got to the field just in time to compete that morning. Good thing my coach was there to help me warm up, as my dad was still not feeling well enough. I won to become the 11-12 boys Team Champion, and got called on the field with my picture on the Jumbotron at the Braves game that night. Unfortunately, my score was not quite enough to send me to the National Championship and Home Run Derby that year. In 2012, I was anticipating competing again, only to lose the chance after I broke my arm trying to dunk a basketball.
Even though I was still 13, the spring of 2013 was the last year I would be eligible to compete in the MLB Pitch Hit & Run due to my birthday, and I really wanted to go all the way to the MLB All-Star Game. I came back this year for my final chance to be the National Champion. I won the local competition at St. Andrews Parks & Playgrounds. At the sectional competition, I started the day pitching, hitting only hit two of the six targets. The rest of the day was horrible, as I kept thinking I had ruined my last chance to go to the national finals. I barely squeezed out the win due to my hitting -- in fact, I hit a ball out of the park! It was interesting watching them measure that one.
When I found out I was going to Atlanta for the Team Championship, I was shocked, but thankful. When I was warming up in front of Turner Field, I saw my favorite coach and one of my best friends walk up to surprise me and support me again. I was so glad to have them there to cheer me on! I won that day, and was able to attend the game and be recognized again as the Braves Team Champion. I felt very good about my score. On the day they announced the people who were going to the National Finals and Home Run Derby, I went to my grandparents' house to hear the news on MLB Tonight with my family. I was super excited to see my name on TV!
I have never been on a plane before so I'm glad to be able to ride one to New York. I'll be going with my parents and my brother, Zan. I'm really looking forward to the Home Run Derby, to be shagging fly-balls, and watching all my favorite players in the All-Star Game.
Right before I got the news about competing in the national round, I heard one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, Bishop Abraham Yel Nhial, come and speak at my church about what he went through living for 10 years as a lost boy, and how we, as Americans, are blessed to live in such a great country. That really humbled me through the experience so far. He reminded me to be thankful.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.