Yesterday, Matt Harvey began his rehab assignment with the Brooklyn Cyclones and started against the Hudson Valley Renegades (an affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays). It was not a far drive and it was a chance to watch the guy who made me believe in the Mets again.
The Renegades hyped up this arrival of Harvey and the place was packed. I was lucky to find parking and I basically sprinted to the entrance to catch Harvey’s warmup.
I barely made it and managed some blurry photos of him. As we tried getting to our seats, it became clear that the Renegades overbooked and we were forced to stand.
We managed to stand not too far behind the third base dugout and in walks Matt Harvey from the left field bullpen (the bullpen is akin to the one at Wrigley).
The crowd gave him a thunderous ovation and Harvey reciprocated with a little tip of the cap. After a quick top of the first, Harvey took the mound and all the cameras and eyes were tuned to the man on the mound.
Harvey’s first five pitches were out of the zone but some were not called by the umpire, although I will admit my bias towards Harvey. The righty settled down to retire the next hitter on a ground ball but gave up a seeing eye single to the next hitter.
Pitching coach Royce Ring talked to Harvey to settle him down and it must have worked. He finished up the frame and left after just one inning.
Naturally as a Met fan, I held my breath wondering, “Is Harvey hurt again? Come on Matt.” Fortunately, I noticed him throwing a bullpen in the left field corner and my concerns were eased. His velocity was around 91-93 according to the stadium radar gun. Final line was: 1 IP, H, ER, BB. Harvey looked rusty early on but good physically. He was leaner than I’ve ever seen him and he looked physically strong.
After a little bit, Harvey ran off into the visitors clubhouse in the right field corner between innings and I started to watch the game but I got tired of standing and started heading out. The visitors clubhouse has one side facing the field and another facing the parking lot.
On my way out, fans were huddling around the clubhouse and I wondered if Harvey was on his way there. A few fans thought so and I along with my family, decided to stick around and see if I could just see him up close.
I noticed Harvey’s dog he often posts pictures of on Instagram. After about 10 minutes of waiting, out he came. This was one the biggest person I have ever met and he was incredibly nice. He signed anything that a fan asked him to and took photos with every fan who asked.
I kept expecting him to veer off and head for his car but he would not. He made his way over to me and when I almost went speechless. I just said, “Matt, can I please get a selfie?” He leaned in, took it and asked “You got it?” Star shocked, I just said “Yeah man, thanks” and proceeded to blurt out, “the Dark Knight will rise.” Matt chuckled and and said he agreed.
He stayed and did this with every single fan there. Almost every fan called him a class act. I couldn’t help but agree. It was such a great chance to meet a guy I loved growing up and I still cannot believe I met him as I’m writing this.