What are the chances of this ever happening?
Wabash Valley College Director of Radio-TV Kyle Peach was in the midst of his annual trip to Jupiter, Fla. to catch a glimpse of a St. Louis Cardinals spring training game when he got much more than he could have imagined.
For starters, he got to throw out the first pitch at an exhibition game at Roger Dean Stadium.
“The hotel package we had allowed us each to get a tour of the Cardinals training camp, be on the field for batting practice, and throw out a first pitch,” said Peach, who was accompanied by former WVC Radio-TV instructor Ryan Jenkins, who now lives in Indianapolis.
A Cardinal player is selected by the club to receive the ceremonial pitch. It so happens the Redbird player selected for that day was none other than pitcher Keith Butler, a 2009 WVC graduate trying to make the major league club in his first year on the 40-man roster.
“We had reached out to him (in advance) to try and do an interview while we were there,” Peach said. “But he had no idea we were throwing out first pitches and he was shocked to see me trotting out to the mound. He had remembered us from playing at WVC, but he wasn’t in any of my classes.”
Peach admitted that he “bounced” his pitch to the plate.
The two did get a chance to meet briefly after the pre-game ceremony. “He signed my baseball and posed for a picture after and agreed to an interview,” Peach said.
As for Butler, he told Peach that his most memorable moments from spring training occur daily.
“Being in the same locker room as the guys I loved watching play on TV when I was younger, and they talk to me and help me with stuff,” Butler said. “It’s absolutely amazing.”
After a stellar year in the Class AA ranks, Butler was invited to spring training on the Cardinals’ 40-man roster. “I came in and was prepared to show off what I have at the beginning,” he said, “They look at the young guys to be more prepared so they can see what they have. I feel like I’ve done my job so far.”
Those close to the Cardinals predict Butler, 23, will open this season in Class AAA Memphis. “I just hope for the best and whatever happens happens,” Butler said. “I’ll be ready to go wherever they send me.”
Butler took time to thank Warrior baseball in particular and the school in general for helping him get to this point in his career.
“I was moved to pitch from the stretch only and I still do that. I threw a curveball in high school, came to Wabash and learned the slider, and if you talk to anyone who has ever watched me play, (they) will say it’s my best pitch,” Butler said. “But Wabash was awesome everyday and was definitely a big stepping stone in getting me to the next level.”