On Canada Day, the Seattle Mariners won their game against the Kansas City Royals 1-0, thanks in no small part to pitcher James Paxton, from Ladner, B.C. But he was not the only Canadian celebrating a win that day.
Sidney baseball player Nolan Weinmeyer, 10, ran onto the field after the game for the Pitch, Hit, Run competition, as the only Canadian amongst other kids from the Pacific Northwest. Of the three in his age division, he came out on top.
Nolan’s father Brad said they announced the winners from third to first, and when he heard who placed second, he knew his son had won, but tried not to give it away early.
“I didn’t do any hooting or hollering but I definitely did some fist pumps for sure, as quietly as possible,” said Brad. “I was really excited for him and I could tell he was excited, too.”
Only the top three ten-year olds in the U.S. would go on to Washington, DC, and Nolan did not crack the top three, but Brad said he was happy anyway, and that it was a special day for Nolan.
At his home in Sidney, Nolan said he was still deciding where to put his plaque. It would compete with old baseball gloves displayed on the wall (part of his dad’s collection).
Nolan felt excited to run the bases at Safeco, because “running’s one of my stronger parts.” Instead of running 120 feet like he’s used to, kids had to run 180 feet. He enjoyed watching the Mariners play the Royals, but he had something else on his mind.
“I was kind of nervous, just thinking about what I had to do,” said Nolan. “But I was also asking myself why I was nervous, ‘cause I’ve done it before.”
When Nolan heard he had won, he said he tried to play it cool, but was excited to get it.
While Brad does not have Nolan’s precise scores, Nolan hit the ball 80 feet farther than the next competitor and ran from second base to home over a second faster.
“I’ve had people from Trail, B.C. messaging me saying, ‘We’re following you!’ Just the amount of support from everybody was great,” said Brad.
Brad wanted to thank the baseball community for making Nolan’s trip special.
Carson Vitale, who works for the Seattle Mariners as head of minor league player/coach development, sent Brad a good luck message for Nolan, and said there was something in the media box waiting for them. It turned out to be a package with on-field passes, fifth-row tickets for the game, and other goodies.
Before the competition, Mike Chewpoy, coach of the Victoria Mariners, had spoken to Seattle pitcher James Paxton, and the pitcher gave Nolan a signed ball.
“We took it all in and it was great,” said Brad. “They treated [the kids] like gold.”