Scotts MLB Pitch Hit & Run Post National Finals Experience - Gage Gillott
When my dad and I arrived in Miami, we got off the plane and felt as if we walked into an oven. It was 110 degrees and burning hot, but we got used to it. We headed to baggage claim and met the Pitch Hit & Run staff member who introduced himself, gave us directions, and money for a cab to get to our hotel.
On our cab ride, I got to see the whole city which was unbelievable because I’m used to seeing a smaller city known as Pittsburgh. Huge buildings that were towering in over us, shuttles motoring on a track overtop of us, and large crowds of people walking the city. I just took it all in, and got a few pictures on our way to the hotel. We arrived at the hotel, and as we walked in a few PHR workers were waiting for us. They gave me and my dad some papers to fill out, and they asked for a picture. We checked in and headed up to the room, so we could unpack and sleep for a little before we went to the Welcome Dinner.
Right around six, we headed down to the ball room area where the dinner was being held. We sat down next to Sullivan Smith and his father because his dad is originally from where I live. So, we learned a few things about each other and Sullivan and I got to talk for a while. Our families chatted for a while and we listened to multiple speakers from USA softball, a few people from the MLB, and Kelly from the PHR organization. MLB and PHR gave me and all the competitors a new baseball bag and it was filled with a bunch of different types of items and souvenirs which was very generous of them. I was nervous when we first walked into the room, but as more people started talking I got more comfortable and felt relaxed.
The next day was fun and consisted of many things. When we woke up we headed down to the lobby for breakfast. I met a few of my new competitors and we chatted a little bit. Around 8:15 we loaded the bus and headed to Fan Fest. When we got there, trying to get in was a little crazy as there were multiple people trying to get in but luckily we went through the V.I.P entrance and didn’t have to wait in any lines.
As we made our way inside there were so many things to do and see such as all kinds of collectible items, or even take some batting practice. We walked around and tried to steal bases against major league players and did a little home run derby. Then we got interviewed by the MLB network and they asked us a few questions and we had to answer them but everyone in Fan Fest could hear us which was kind of nerve racking. After our interview, my dad and I had some free time so we went to the MLB shop and bought some apparel that we could wear and bring back for other family members.
We left Fan Fest and headed to Playball Park where we got to hang out with USA Softball and play a little Wiffle ball like game. It was fun trying to hit homeruns and getting to know your other competitors. Playball Park also gave us t-shirts and hats which was very generous of them. Lastly, we headed to Marlins Park where we got to watch the Futures Game and the Celebrity Softball Game. We got to see some of the top caliber Minor League players battle against each other, and also watch Rickey Henderson and other legends and celebrities hit bombs. It was a very fun and exciting night but also a very tiring day.
The next day was competition day. I slept in so I felt good and rested. I felt pumped and ready to go, but I was a little nervous so I tried to block that out and stay relaxed. I got ready in my uniform they had provided which included an awesome PHR Dri-fit jersey. We headed to the lobby and loaded the bus so we could head back to Fan Fest for a little while. When we got there, we took a few pictures as a group as we walked in, but then the rest of the time was free time. The PHR workers had told us that Bryce Harper was going to be getting interviewed by the MLB Network at the Diamond. So, most people decided to go see Bryce Harper. First a dance group opened and performed for him, and then he came out onto the stage. He was asked to answer some questions and he also was showing off is new shoe from Under Armor.
We all met up and got ready to head to Marlins Park for the competition. When we got there, we had to wait for a bit until we could be let in due to Pitbull practicing for his performance that night. Once we were let in, they led us down onto the field. It came so quickly and I was feeling quite nervous with all kind of cameras pointing at me and different people telling us to do things. I warmed up with my other two competitors before they told us to get ready for the hitting portion.
Before I knew it, we started the hitting portion. I felt confident because this was normally a strength in the competition for me. When it was my turn I hit well but based on how my other competitors hit I knew it was going to come down to the pitching. So next was the pitching and I had been practicing all week so I felt confident until I only hit 3 of 6 pitches which wasn’t very good but I still felt good and was just enjoying the whole experience of being on the big screen and my name being called out as everyone at home was watching it live. Lastly was running and I always did well in this so I felt good and gave it my all. After the competition, they took us into the press conference room where we were given our trophies and took pictures with the whole PHR squad. After, we headed back to the hotel so we could relax and get ready to go to the homerun derby to shag balls.
We loaded the bus and went to Marlins Park. When we got off the bus we went into this huge tent where we ate pizza and listened to some music. After dinner, they told us a list of rules to follow while we were shagging and then we made our way into the park. As we were walking in we saw a few of the players that were going to be in the All-Star game. We made our way into the bullpen. When it was our turn to go shag balls it was unreal. I always dreamed of being that kid and it was coming true. I caught Sanchez’s Ball, and Sano’s ball which was awesome. In the middle of the derby we were led onto the field where they talked about us and the PHR program. Overall shagging at the derby was my favorite part and an amazing and once in a lifetime experience. The next day, we had to leave and head back to Pittsburgh which was disappointing because Miami and the whole PHR experience was great.
I would like to thank the MLB, Scotts, the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the Pitch Hit & Run program for giving me this once in a lifetime experience. I would also like to thank my parents for all the opportunities and support they provide and give to me making me a better baseball player. I would like to thank my family for all the love and support they show towards me. Also, I would like to thank Tony David who has been my coach since I was young and taught me the game of baseball and has given me all the confidence in the world. I would like to thank Clint Weibl and the Edge sports Academy for developing me into the pitcher I am today and giving me a great place to practice, and my coach Shawn Musgrove for coaching me and showing me the next level of the game. I’ve made so many friends, and memories from this experience and couldn’t thank everyone enough. Hope to see you guys next year!