The Georgia State baseball program enjoyed a landmark day on Saturday, May 24 when former Panther pitcher David Buchanan made his Major League debut with the Philadelphia Phillies. Not only did the 25-year-old right-hander reach the big leagues, but he started against the Dodgers and pitched five solid innings to earn the victory.
Buchanan, who pitched for the Panthers in 2010 before being drafted in the seventh round, is scheduled to make his second start for the Phillies tonight at 7 p.m. against the New York Mets.
On the same day that he watched Buchanan make his Major League debut, Frady got word that Donald Lutz, one of his former players from the German National Team, was recalled by the Cincinnati Reds. Lutz was first called up last season to he become the first product of the German system to reach the Majors.
The weekend got even better for Frady on Sunday. He returned to Citizens Bank Park to catch a few innings of Sunday’s game before flying home because he wanted to see his former player at UCF, Drew Butera, catch for the Dodgers. It was too bad he had to leave before seeing Butera catch the final out of Josh Beckett’s no-hitter.
Frady recounted his trip to Philadelphia.
“I got on the plane early Saturday morning. As I was waiting at the gate, it was extremely crowded, abnormal for a flight, and I thought to myself, ‘who’s going to Philadelphia on a Saturday morning?’ But a lot of people from Atlanta were, and just as I was about to board, I saw David Buchanan’s mom. We had a good opportunity to talk, and I relayed how proud of David that I was. She already knew that, of course, and I was just happy for her and the family, and we talked about how many people would be there.
“When I got off the plane, no matter where I went, everybody in Philadelphia was already aware that David Buchanan was making his Major League debut. They were somewhat aware that he played at Georgia State, and that was a story for the fact that the first player from Georgia State University was making his Major League debut. Even though Philadelphia’s a big city, it’s pretty small when it comes to the Phillies; everybody knows what’s going on.
“I got in a cab, and the cab driver had Phillies stuff on, so I asked him if he was a Phillies fan. He said yes, and I said ‘are you excited about today?’ He said ‘well, they’re losing, they need a win, and they got this rookie pitcher going.’ So I told him ‘well you know, he pitched for me in college’ and we discussed it. When I checked into the hotel, a lot of people in the hotel lobby were dressed in Phillies stuff and were headed to the stadium. I caught the train from the hotel to the park, and it full of Phillies fans, and I’m just listening while they talked. They were talking about David Buchanan, the rookie pitcher, can he do it? Some thought he could and some thought no rookie can do well.
“When I got to the park, I met the MLB.com beat writer for an interview. He took me to the security lobby where the people sitting in the luxury boxes take the elevator. There was people coming and going, but it was really pretty quiet, and we had a talk, but the attendant, who was listening to the interview, said ‘I’m a high school coach in New Jersey, and I know about your program, because I’ve had some kids interested in going there.” Then he said, ‘What’s your situation, why are you here?’ and I said, ‘Well, David Buchanan is one of my players.’ So we talked, and that was really great.
“Prior to the game starting, he was warming up down in the outfield near the bullpen. I walked down there, not to talk with him or interfere with him, but while I was down there, I talked to his dad. I talked to a lot of his family members, his sister, and just got a chance to say hello, and they’re all happy that he was there, of course, and it was good.
“When I got to my seat, I took some pictures of the scoreboard, and then watched David take the field. I know him enough to know when he looks nervous, and to be honest with you, he didn’t look that nervous. He said in his interview (after the game) that he felt like he blacked out there at one point. While I think nerves were a big part of the Major League debut, I think the energy to want to say that I belong here and I want to prove myself here is also a great energy, and I think that I saw that in him.
“The first inning was just magical! He beat the first three hitters up, I mean, he really did, and he broke [Yasiel] Puig’s bat, that was pretty fun to watch. None of the balls were hit well, and he really did a great job. Then Chase Utley hit the home run in the bottom half to give them a 2-0 lead, and I couldn’t help but think, that’s got to just relax him just a little. You know, when you’re pitching 0-0, it’s different than pitching with a lead. The fans were into it, and he went through the lineup really pretty easily the first time through. He gave up a single (to Andre Ethier). If I remember, Andre Ethier got out on his foot on a change-up and just one-handed it back up the middle. That was his first Major League hit that he gave up, and then, he cruised through three good innings.
“In the fourth, it looked like they saw him a little better, and I saw a little bit of an adjustment by the Dodgers against him in the fourth. They had some better swings, had some better results. They lined out a couple times hard, and same in the fifth, but he stranded them. The only thing I can say that probably he’d like to take back was in the fifth inning. He had a runner on third and two outs and was just beating the hitter up, Dee Gordon, I mean, he could get no good swings, and David kind of made a mistake pitch, and [Gordon] hit it out in to left field for a single. I think that was a one pitch he would like to have back, which gave up his second run, and then after that, they took him out. So he pitched five innings, and he did a really good job. I really think that they took him out because he had gone five effective, positive innings, the Dodgers had a string of lefties coming up, they had a hard-throwing 98-mile-an-hour lefty come in to face those lefties. I think in the dugout, they said ‘Hey this kid’s got a chance to win his first game, let’s give him some confidence, the bullpen can take it from here.’ They did, and that was awesome.
“I didn’t talk to David after the game, because I can only imagine the zoo that was surrounding him right there, but when I got back to the hotel, we texted back and forth with each other.
“It was just a surreal, magical day. It was 75 degrees, absolutely beautiful, perfect weather, seats right behind the third base dugout. That’s my favorite seat in a park. I guess because I’m a coach and I see that angle all the time, I enjoy that angle the most on the field. I just couldn’t say enough, and I found this to be the most surprising: all the Phillies fans were so nice!”