Wednesday, May 19, 2010 9:00am
By Miss Chatter
Gracie, short for Grace Kelly, celebrates Drew Storens promotion from AAA Syracuse to the Nationals by wearing a Nationals harness and posing on a Nationals welcome mat at the Storen family home.
Meet Gracie! (all together now, Awwww!) That Nats-decked out adorable dog isnt just any dog, but one of newly promoted Drew Storens biggest fans; so big, hes been known to Skype with her. Ive often wondered how the families of ballplayers celebrate the ascension to the big show. So many baseball players dream of the day the parent club calls them up, while the occasion actually happens for so few. Given Drews track record to-date in the minor leagues, there was little doubt hed get the call and soon. Nobody knew when exactly the call would come, including the player himself. And what of the families who want to catch their child's big debut and need to change plans at a moment's notice? In this particular case, one parent went in person while the other watched on the kitchen television with knots in her stomach.
Despite being hidden somewhat in the shadow of media attention surrounding the Nationals other first round pick in the 2009 amateur draft, the Nationals and fans still hold high expectations and hopes for Drew Storen, drafted 10th overall. The righty reliever, whose dad wishes hed inherited his mothers left-handedness, began his grooming in the minor leagues as a closer after signing within 24 hours of being drafted. He ascended through the minor league system one step ahead of Stephen Strasburg, racking up a combined ERA a smidge above 1.0 (1.08 to be precise) and pitching dominantly at every level.
Drews biggest supporters come from his close-knit well-grounded family. Most baseball fans are probably familiar with Mark Patrick, Drew's dad, who hosted Baseball in the Morning on XM 175 Home Plate (now MLB Network Radio) for four years up until the XMSirius merger. Most of the parental sports attention gets focused on him due to his ties. He was also instrumental in Drews baseball upbringing, teaching Drew to switch hit at the age of four, sending him to pitching lessons after he expressed an interest and being able to spot errors and correct them in Drews delivery. Marks brother and wife, Drews aunt and uncle, have followed him to games across the country, even sporting this homemade sign during the College World Series in Omaha.
Aunt Kim holding sign while Uncle Greg looks on (right)
Drew is also very close to his older sister Lindsay, who lives right up the interstate in Baltimore. No sibling battle of the beltways there. And of course, his mom Pam and Gracie the dog.
So while NatsNation held their breath and watched Storen throw the first pitches in his MLB debut, the one bright spot of anticipation and relief in Mondays game against the Cardinals, what were his biggest supporters doing?
Storens aunt and uncle joined up with his dad Monday at Busch Stadium in St. Louis to cheer him on in person. Knowing managers like to throw the up-and-comers directly into the fire, they made a good choice as Drew Storen took the mound with one out and one runner on in the 7th inning with the Nats down 4-2 to the Cardinals. As a mom, I was mainly curious how his mom, Pam Storen, took in her son's big debut.
My stomach is always in knots. Every time Drew would move up another notch, whether it be from college to the minors, or Hagerstown to Potomac, or Potomac to Harrisburg, I just kept thinking, it should be less stressful but its not. Thats why I didnt come to St. Louis, relayed Pam. I didnt want to throw up on national TV. Completely understandable!
So what did the mother of last years tenth overall pick do during her sons MLB debut? First, she put the harness on Gracie, which had been put away with a vow not to go back on the dog until Storen was called up. She watched the game with Gracie on MLB Extra Innings, ordered on her satellite system Sunday when news broke hed been called up. Grace Kelly and I watched it in the kitchen on DirecTV. When Drew got the first out, I was clapping and there was lots of barking and tail chasing going on. And a big sigh of relief when he struck out Holliday. She says of the pitch that hit Ludwick on the hand, I know it had to hurt, but that was one nasty pitch.
Speaking of nasty pitches, the mother-son duo has had a pre-game texting tradition of their own. It's always been a running joke where I would say "show 'em the nasty stuff". Told him this time that I guess I didn't need to say that anymore.
Drew was one of the first Nationals players to 'tweet' on the social network Twitter (@drewstoren), joining even before he was drafted last year. He has entertained fans with tweets about his inflatable pool raft for long bus trips between minor league stadiums, television shows and what his current snack is. Drew's endearing and friendly mom is also on Twitter (@pstoren), causing many fans to feel an adoptive protectiveness for the reliever with the nasty pitches. Twitter has also provided an opportunity for a little parental role reversal. The privacy-conscious reliever often cautions his mom about sharing too much on the open platform.
For Mothers Day, Lindsay got her mom a trip to Baltimore for a visit taking place this upcoming weekend. The surprise bonus is that Drews mom and sister will be able to go to Nationals Park, possibly allowing Pam to see her son pitch for the first time since Stanford, an option that wasnt available at the time the trip was planned since he was still in Syracuse and nobody expected a callup until the first week of June. Regarding his debut, she says, I didnt want to jinx it. Ill see him Sunday.
It wont be a Pups In the Park day, so Gracie will be unable to make the trek to Nationals Park for the Storen mom and sister visit, but maybe they can come back in August! At least Drew can still Skype with her while hes on the road (now in suits and on airplanes) and shell leave the welcome mat out for him! Last I heard, they ordered a Nats collar to add to her ensemble. I wonder if that goes on after the first win or save?
Lindsay and Drew
(All photos countesy of Pam Storen)