Mike McCarthy pitched for the Portland Sea Dogs from 2013-16 and is now a pitching coach in the Minnesota Twins organization. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

When he pitched in Portland, he was a student of baseball, goodwill ambassador, outdoor enthusiast and renaissance man.

Not much has changed for Mike McCarthy.

McCarthy, 32, is now a pitching coach in the Minnesota Twins organization. Quarantined like everyone else these days, McCarthy keeps in touch daily with his pitchers – while also starting book clubs, continuing online classes, taking hikes and connecting with people across the world, either through social media, or with a 1939 Royal typewriter he recently acquired.

“I started typing letters,” said McCarthy, who got the idea from a podcast about Tom Hanks’ love of typewriters.

Typical McCarthy, always embracing the unique, while constantly connecting with people.

When McCarty pitched for the Portland Sea Dogs, from 2013-16, he was the first to admit he was not a prospect – although don’t be dismissive of his on-field accomplishments. But his greatest impact was felt elsewhere, as mentor, friend and supporter.

He was named the Sea Dogs’ Citizen of the Year three straight seasons, recognizing his contributions in the community. McCarthy was always the first to sign up for speaking engagements and volunteer appearances. There were also the unscheduled spots, like when he hung around Hadlock Field after Sunday afternoon games so he could high-five kids running around the bases, or joining in the occasional play-catch-in-the-outfield that the Sea Dogs offers to fans.

And McCarthy continues to volunteer for Baseball Miracles, an organization that brings baseball to impoverished areas around the world.

Michael McCarthy gives a young boy his first glove while on a January 2016 visit to Honduras. Photo by Todd Bliss

As a pitcher, McCarthy went 28-27 in his six-year minor league career, with a 4.57 ERA. He pitched on Portland’s star-studded 2014 team, which featured several prospects, including pitchers Henry Owens (14 wins) and Brian Johnson (10 wins). McCarthy went 10-4 that year. The next season, he threw some gems, including an April start when he outdueled Yankees prospect Luis Severino.

Injuries limited McCarthy in 2016 (12 games, five starts), and the Red Sox let him go after the season. McCarthy was not one to hang on, no matter what.

“It got to that point where I was going to be 30 (the next year). I was a pitcher throwing 88-90 mph. The market is going to let you know if there is interest,” McCarthy said.

“There was not any direct interest.”

McCarthy did not consider independent ball, instead putting his education to work – he has an MBA (although his bachelor’s degree is in pre-med from Call State-Bakersfield). McCarthy worked in marketing for Lengthwise Brewing Company in Bakersfield.

But while there was no interest in McCarthy among baseball teams as a pitcher, there was interest in McCarthy as a mentor … and maybe, a coach. Near the end of the 2017 season, Gabe Kapler reached out to McCarthy. Kapler, a former Red Sox player and minor league manager (and now manager of the San Francisco Giants), was the Dodgers’ Director of Player Development. When Kapler finally interviewed McCarthy, it was long distance – McCarthy was in Argentina on a Baseball Miracles trip.

Before anything materialized, Kapler had moved on to manage the Phillies. But Kapler’s assistant in Los Angeles, Jeremy Zoll, also liked McCarthy. Zoll took a job as director of the Twins’ minor leagues and hired McCarthy as a bullpen coach for Triple-A Rochester.

After two years as bullpen coach, McCarthy was promoted this year to co-pitching coach in Rochester (and, by the way, Zoll is now a Twins assistant general manager, and the team’s director of player development is former Sea Dogs and Red Sox outfielder Alex Hassan).

This year, McCarthy was back in spring training in Florida – the Twins, like the Red Sox, train in Ft. Myers – when the coronavirus began.

“It was amazing over the course of 6-7 days,” McCarthy said. “We went from ‘there is this COVID thing,’ to ‘we’re a little worried about it,’ to ‘we’re not going to do autographs,’ to ‘we’re not going to play today,’ to ‘everybody is going home.’”

McCarthy wanted to be with his parents in Reno, Nevada, but he had to take precautions.

“My parents are in their 60s and I wanted to be careful with this,” he said. “I took a 12-day cross country road trip. It gave me a chance to self-quarantine and isolate on the way.”

McCarthy has been in Reno before, giving baseball lessons at the Northern Nevada Baseball Club, which is owned by former Sea Dogs outfielder Chris Aguila.

In Nevada, if McCarthy is not enjoying the outdoors, he’s connecting with others, making sure his pitchers are doing OK, physically and mentally; calling a sister stationed on a military base in Italy; checking on elderly folks; randomly sending care packages or flowers; and reaching out to people in Maine, especially those who work at Hadlock Field. McCarthy has spoken to some of the Hadlock ushers and heard about the Sea Dogs’ offer to continue paying game-day workers, even if there are no games.

“That’s an incredible testament to the ownership group and their commitment to be true members of that community,” he said.

Being a true member of the community … McCarthy knows a little bit about that.

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