Ryan Flaherty of Portland realized his dream Monday when Baltimore Orioles Manager Buck Showalter announced in front of the team that Flaherty had made the big leagues.
“It was pretty surreal,” said Flaherty, the former Deering High standout.
“Growing up, whenever you play a game in the backyard or on the playground, you dream of playing in the big leagues. It was definitely a once in a lifetime moment,” he said.
Flaherty said he was sitting with his teammates before a scrimmage with Florida Southern.
“Buck was talking about how one of the toughest jobs as a manager is when he has to cut players, but that one of the most rewarding jobs is telling a player he’s going to the big leagues. He said to me ‘Congratulations, you’re going to the big leagues’. The rest of the team clapped and shook my hand. It was interesting listening to the veterans talk about when they heard they were going to the big leagues,” he said.
Adding to the moment, said Flaherty, was that Mike Bordick, a former Oriole player and University of Maine player, was at the team meeting.
“Mike has been a coach during spring training and has really helped me with infield play. Being able to go through spring training with him there made it more special,” said Flaherty.
Bordick will serve as a color commentator on Orioles’ broadcasts this season. When Flaherty makes his first appearance in a regular-season game, and that could be Friday when the Orioles open at home against Minnesota, Bordick will no longer be the last position player from Maine to play in the major leagues. Although Bordick spent most of his young life in Maine and played at Hampden Academy, he’s not a native. He was born in Michigan.
“I’ve been kidding him that I’m the true Mainer,” said Flaherty.
As spring training progressed, Flaherty felt he had a good chance of making the team. A Rule 5 draft pickup by the Orioles from the Cubs, Flaherty’s ability to play several positions helped his chances. A shortstop in high school and in college at Vanderbilt, Flaherty has played all four infield positions along with right and left field this spring.
He played in 25 games and hit .232 with one homer and 10 RBI.
At each level, Flaherty has taken a measured approach — not getting too high or too low.
“Baseball is baseball,” he said. “You try to improve at each level.”
Proud parents, Ed and Debbie, got the news through Ryan’s text Monday afternoon. Ed Flaherty is the longtime baseball coach at USM.
It read: “I made the big leagues! Call you guys after batting practice,” said Ed.
“I missed a lot of his games in college because I was coaching. I watched him grow up and then he goes to college. All of a sudden, he’s a different kid in terms of maturity and ability. We’re so proud and excited. It’s a dream of every kid when he first picks up a glove. If he only plays one game in the big leagues, I’ll be as proud as ever.”
While his father missed a few of his college games, there’s one game he won’t miss — Ryan’s first in the major leagues.
“I’m planning to be at the game Friday in Baltimore. I can’t miss his first big league at-bat,” he said.
Staff Writer Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org