New York Mets pitchers Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander have enjoyed amazing Major League Baseball careers, but their paths to “The Show” can’t quite match the Hollywood-esque road their current teammate Grant Hartwig navigated.
A native of Plymouth and 2016 graduate of Novi Detroit Catholic Central, Hartwig pitched four years for Miami University of Ohio, where as a senior he carved out a solid 3.44 earned run average with 82 strikeouts in 73 innings pitches.
More impressively, he earned a degree in microbiology and premedical studies.
After going undrafted in 2021, Hartwig put baseball in the rearview mirror (or so he thought) and registered to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).
One day in 2021, while focusing on a practice exam, an unknown number appeared on his cell phone.
“I muted it,” Hartwig explained to David Laurila of FanGraphs.com.
The caller, as it turned out, was a representative of the New York Mets, who — once the connection with Hartwig was made — offered the right-handed pitcher a contract as an undrafted free agent.
Fast forward to Monday night, June 21, when Hartwig made his Major League debut by shutting out the Houston Astros for one inning in the Mets’ 11-1 victory.
He followed that up with by pitching 1.1 scoreless innings Wednesday night against the Astros.
In some ways, Hartwig’s journey is similar to that of Jim Morris, a former Tampa Bay Rays pitcher whose inspiring story Disney turned into the 2002 movie “The Rookie”.
Longtime friend reflects
Hartwig’s longtime friend Tyler Thorington is not surprised his former youth baseball teammate — they played together on various teams from 13U to 18U — has reached the pinnacle of baseball dreams.
“Grant is an outstanding, hard-working person,” said Thorington, a Western Michigan University alum who pitched against Hartwig in Mid-American Conference games.
“Grant has a level of confidence not many people have. He doesn’t brag, he just believes in himself.”
Thorington said he’s been closely following his good friend’s path to the Majors.
“I had heard a few weeks ago he was next in line to be called up,” Thorington said. “Monday night, I was laying in bed, following the Mets game on my phone. When I saw he was coming in, I jumped out of bed and turned the game on.
“To make it to the big leagues is every young baseball player’s dream, but one that few experience. I’m so happy for Grant because he has just grinded his way through, never giving up.”
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