By Ryan Lewis / PHR National Finalist
Ryan Lewis of Swansea, Mass., is a 2011 Aquafina Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit & Run National Finalist. Ryan shared his Pitch, Hit & Run experiences with MLB.com.
The waiting is over, today is the day me and my mom, dad, and two brothers fly out to Arizona for the MLB All Star game! I am so excited, we wake up early and fly out of Providence RI on Sunday morning. The plane ride is easy, I slept most of the way and dad worked on his computer.
When we get to the airport in Arizona we were met by the LEJ Sports officials who greeted us and helped get us to the hotel. That night there was a welcome reception and many nice officials spoke to let us know we were all winners and to enjoy our stay. We received many items like a signed baseball from CC Sabathia and a really cool MLB All-Star backpack. Our Aquafina uniforms looked real nice and we tried them on to make sure we looked good the next day.
By the way, it's very hot in Arizona, the temp was 101 in the day and 94 at night. We went into the pool real fast to cool off and went to bed to rest for Monday morning.
Now its Monday morning and we are getting ready to board the bus to take us to the MLB breakfast. I was quiet on the ride over, feeling nervous about the competition. I try to stay calm but then I see Chase Field and know in a little while I will be running the bases and hitting. First though we have breakfast and all the team mascots are there to take pictures. My favorite was the Bronco from Colorado Rockies, he was funny.
After breakfast we go to the stadium, it's really big! I'm used to the old fashioned baseball parks like Fenway Park, this stadium is so modern and huge. It looks great and has a dome that they closed for us. Plus it's air conditioned. I'm still nervous until we start to warm up. I played catch with a few boys and started to smile. They were smiling too...after all, we are already winners just to make the National Finals! The competition goes well, I did not come in first place, but I did my best. It was nice to see our picture up on the Jumbotron. It showed everyone hitting, pitching and running. I liked that.
After the competition we stayed in the National League dugout and saw the players come out to the field to warm-up before the Home Run Derby. We asked Prince Fielder some advice for hitting and he said "see the ball, hit the ball". The players were nice to us. We received autographs from players like Josh Hamilton, Jose Molina and Justin Verlander.
Soon the HR Derby was going to start and we get a chance to go on the field and shag fly balls. A bunch of us caught at least one ball, I caught one from Josh Hamilton and one from Prince Fielder. Another boy made a diving catch that actually made ESPN SportsCenter. We were also on TV, a lot of my friends told me they saw me and all the other finalists and said that we looked good. One thing us older boys did was to let the younger boys and girls have a chance to get a ball instead of trying to run them over. Everyone got along so well, we wanted everyone to share and have a great experience. After the game we went back to the hotel to rest for the next day.
On Tuesday we went to the MLB All-Star FanFest, an interactive exhibition that we received VIP treatment. We pitched, hit, ran bases, ran obstacle courses and even saw someone get married there. We took a team picture at the worlds largest baseball and met Matt Williams, retired third baseman from the San Francisco Giants.
After FanFest we went over to the All-Star Game. We all sat in a special section with our families and took around a thousand pictures of all the players. This was my first All-Star Game and it was an awesome experience. After the game we went back to the hotel because first thing next morning we flew out of AZ back to Providence RI. I fell asleep again, but this time I had my PHR Trophy with me. Its real big with a huge baseball on top. All the people at the airport were asking me about it. That was nice. Back home a couple of newspapers interviewed me and published some photos of the event.
It was so nice of Aquafina to do this. They treated us like we were special, always keeping us busy and letting us get to know each other. I have made some lifetime friends and will never forget the PHR experience. I've spoken to a few boys and girls over the past few days since we've been home. We all are so happy that we were able to be Finalists and meet each other. We hope that one of us can make to the majors so that person can come back to the PHR National Finals and share our experiences. This was the most exciting thing to happen to us, the memories will last forever.
My name is Ryan Lewis. I am 12 years old and live in a small town in Massachusetts called Swansea. I started playing baseball at 5 years old, I could barely hit or even throw a baseball back then, but me and my older brothers played everyday and in a couple of years I could hit and pitch.
Last year I heard about Pitch, Hit & Run (PHR) and I thought to myself that I would like to try that someday. This year my local town held a PHR competition that included all the baseball and softball players in the area. A couple of days before I went to the field and practiced hitting off a tee and running the bases. I couldn't wait until that Saturday of the Local Competition came so I could compete with my friends from school.
That April morning was sunny but chilly. We ran the bases first, then pitched and hit. I was fortunate enough to win the All-Around for my age division and advance to a Sectional Competition a couple of towns over in Fairhaven.
The misty and wet morning in Fairhaven started with running, and when I rounded third and came home I knew I did well. Pitching was next and I hit 5 out of 6. Then in hitting I tapped a couple to shortstop. I only had one swing left so I moved the tee higher, stepped a little farther back and took my last cut. I hit a long drive to center that was almost right on the line! That hit sent me to my favorite MLB stadium, Fenway Park in Boston for the Team Championship round of competition.
That June morning in Boston was sunny and warm, which was just right to pitch, hit and run. Again we started with running and I felt I did well. All I could think about was how I would watch my favorite baseball player, David Ortiz round third and head for home in this ballpark and here I was doing the same thing!
Next we hit and my first swing was not too good. I readjusted my stance and the tee level and sent a shot to center field. It was my longest hit ever and I was feeling really good. I remembered what my brother told me, if you get a good hit and still have a swing left - forget about going to center field, instead turn around a little and go for the left field wall in Fenway known as the Green Monster! I didn't do that, though it would have been fun.
Pitching was next and I did well, but so did the other boys in my division. When the results were announced, I took 1st Place at Fenway for my age division and now could potentially become the Red Sox representative for PHR at the All-Star Game! After all the Team Championships were completed in all the MLB ballparks, if my score was in the top 3, I was headed to Arizona for the National Finals!
Now I had to wait three weeks for the PHR National Finalists to be announced on MLB Network. I tried not to think about it, but before I went to sleep every night I would dream about going to the MLB All-Star Game and competing in the National Finals of PHR. Finally the day came and all my family and friends sat around the TV waiting for the announcement on MLB Network. Everyone was happy and having fun until the names started coming on TV ... then it was very quiet, and as the names in each age division scrolled across the screen, I could see everyone around me getting closer and crossing their fingers. Finally the 11/12 year old boys division was shown ... and my name was on the screen! All my family and friends around me started yelling, jumping up and down, and hugging each other. I never did hear what the announcers were saying, but I was just really happy that I was going to Arizona. My parents and two brothers are coming; this is very exciting for me and my family. I feel great and can't wait to share more of my experiences with PHR.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.