A forgotten baseball dream comes true

By JAMES PHILLIPS,

Every once in a while, you come across a story that is so amazing the greatest storytellers and movie makers could not make it up. Now, most people truly enjoy an underdog story, or one about those who take the unconventional path in reaching their dreams, and boy is that the case in this story. 

Baseball was my first love, and will always hold that distinction. I learned so many life lessons playing the game I loved. 

One truly special thing about the real American Pastime is that some of the most extraordinary things you could ever imagine can take place on those manicured dirt-and-grass diamonds.

A couple of months ago, Nathan Patterson was simply a 23-year-old baseball fan. He had not played baseball since high school, and admitted that he “did not have a very good arm” when he did play. But you would not be able to tell from the video he posted online on July 15.

The video shows Patterson while attending a Colorado Rockies game where he consistently lit up a radar gun at 96-mph. The video was viewed almost 20,000 times over a two-week span. Then on August 1, Patterson signed a professional baseball contract with MLB’s Oakland Athletics.  If that is not a story dreams are made of, I don’t know what is.

Patterson and his brother were at the major league park in Denver to take in the game when he decided to try his hand at the fan speed pitch challenge. You know the one where most people step up believing they can rocket the ball through the net, but end up barely breaking the speed limit on the radar gun. But on this occasion the right-hander stopped everyone in their tracks when he hit 96-mph time after time. 

Throwing a ball over 90-mph sets you apart from a vast majority of human beings. But throwing a baseball over 95-mph puts you in a class of maybe one percent of all people on Earth.

Now when you take that little tid-bit of useless knowledge into account, along with the fact that Patterson did not even have the skill to play college baseball, this story is in the realm of unheard of. 

The true starting point of this dream came true was back in late 2018. That’s when Patterson surprised everyone watching, including himself, when he first threw a 96-mph pitch at a minor league baseball game fan experience. Even more surprising is that he completed that feat with a cast on his non-throwing arm.

Prior to that moment in time, he was clueless to the fact that his right arm had transformed into a baseball cannon in the five years since he had graduated high school. But from that moment on he focused on refining his never used talent in the hopes major league scouts would take notice.

Oakland originally began talking with Patterson in February 2019. At the time, the team was not ready to make a commitment to the unproven and surprising new pitching sensation. However, after backing up his under the bleacher heroics with on the field validation the team became very interested in Patterson as a prospect.

After the video of Patterson throwing 96-mph at the Rockies game went viral the Oakland A’s pulled the trigger and signed the young righty less than two weeks later.

I have no clue how far Patterson’s right arm will take him. Knowing what I know, it seems his arm has been touched by God during the time he was not playing. Baseball is a truly humbling sport in so many ways. But the point that matters is that this young man now has a chance to chase a lifelong dream. The same dream that millions of young boys have when they are growing up, the dream of making it to the big leagues.

I think that Patterson summed up the moment perfectly on August 2. He posted two photos, one of him signing a minor league contract, and one of his new locker filled with Oakland Athletics baseball gear. The caption quoted Billy Bean saying, “how can you not be romantic about baseball.” He ended the post with his own words saying, “This story is not over, I’m writing the next chapters and excited for the journey.” Again, what a story....