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Port Orchard’s Canady gets big-league experience
Picking out a defining moment increasingly is becoming difficult for Port Orchard’s Andrew Canady.
After all, the 14-year-old not only received an all-expense paid trip to the All-Star Game earlier this month in Kansas City. He also threw out the first pitch Sunday to kick off the Mariners game against the Texas Rangers.
It started when Canady, who played a variety of positions — with the exception of catcher — for his Southern Junior Little League team that finished with a 15-2 record.
Canady’s father, Joe, recommended that he join in the local Pitch, Hit and Run competition, which is similar to the NFL’s Punt, Pass and Kick contest, to advance to sectionals in Puyallup.
Athletes are evaluated on throwing six pitches accurately from 45 feet, distance they hit a baseball and accuracy off a tee and running the bases.
Canady, who will be a freshman at Sedgwick Junior High, advanced to the June 17 team championships at Safeco Field from there. In the 13-14 age division, Canady’s scores were pooled against team finalists throughout the United States. He had one of the top three scores in his division. His younger brother, Nick, 8, was third at sectionals. Another brother, Tom, 12, also was among 685,000 participants.
“I’m terribly proud,” said Canady’s mother, Laurie, who teaches at East Port Orchard Elementary School. “Andrew being the oldest is kind of paving the way.”
It was even better when Canady traveled with his father, a Boeing machinist, to Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. He won the Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit and Run national championship on July 9.
“I proved to people that I was so good at what I can do,” Canady said. “We went back to the hotel and they gave us our awards. I thought it was the best thing that could happen to anyone.”
Canady also had an opportunity to participate in some of the All-Star Game’s festivities. He talked with New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter and St. Louis Cardinals third baseman David Freese. Former Mariners pitcher R.A. Dickey, who has used his knuckleball to become one of baseball’s most dominant starters this year with the New York Mets, signed an autograph for Canady.
He also had an opportunity to stand in the outfield and retrieve balls before the Home Run Derby as outfielders Jose Batista and Matt Kemp from the Toronto Blue Jays and Los Angeles Dodgers, respectively, were practicing at bat.
“A couple of balls came flying out at me at what felt like 100 mph,” said Canady, adding that he caught both.
Canady also had a custom-made American League jersey replete with his last name on back, a patch of the Mariners — his favorite team — and No. 14, which represents both his age and preferred numeral.
“That was pretty cool,” he said.
Canady also had an opportunity to visit the Negro League Baseball Museum and learn about some of the game’s history. He said he appreciated learning about how players, such as Jackie Robinson, broke racial barriers.
Perhaps the least compelling part of the trip was the actual game. Canady was rooting for the American League squad, which lost 8-0 on July 10.
“We were all so surprised,” he said. “I was waiting for our team to actually hit a ball.”
Canady flew out of Kansas City and arrived back at 3 a.m. July 11 with his father in Port Orchard. But the festivities were not finished there. After throwing out the first pitch at Safeco Field, Canady also was honored Tuesday during the Kitsap BlueJackets game in Silverdale.
Canady said these memories will be difficult to top. Of course, that could change if he becomes the latest player from Port Orchard to reach the major leagues.
“I hope so,” Canady said. “That would be the best thing ever to happen.”