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for Pie in the Sky,
He Gets Pie in the Face
by Ed Mahan
the bottom of the 10th inning.
The Atlanta Braves and the Montreal Expos were knotted 1-1, when a rookie
batter for the Braves drilled a game-winning, walk-off home run off veteran
reliever Graeme Lloyd.
I was just trying
to get on base, maybe hit it between first and second or in the right-center
gap for a double. I dont know what happened, said Mark DeRosa W97 of
his first homer in the Majors on July 19.
former Quaker quarterback and shortstop left Penn after his junior year
to pursue his dream: playing big-league baseball. Signed by the Atlanta
Bravesyes, those Maddux-Smoltz-Rocker-Jones Atlanta Braves much
disdained by Yankee, Met, and Phillie fansMark went first to Greenville
and then Richmond in the Braves minor-league system. He made spot appearances
with Atlanta in 1998, 1999, and 2000, and this summer he became the starting
shortstop until the Braves traded for veteran shortstop Rey Sanchez in
began by subbing for an injured Rafael Furcal and provided the Braves
with solid defense and a .300 batting average for 10 days in June. When
Furcal returned on June 22, DeRosa assumed the role of backup and remained
there until second-baseman Quilvio Veras twisted his ankle against the
Phillies. DeRosa came in and got two hits in the contest.
next day, as a starter at second base, Marks gutsy running and fielding,
combined with three hits in his first three at-bats, helped the Braves
beat the Mets, 6-2. His third hit in the Met game gave him six hits in
six straight at-bats.
played great, Braves manager Bobby Cox said of DeRosa. Hes smart and
really knows how to play the game.
style of play also grabbed pitcher Tom Glavines attention. Hes a quiet
guy that just comes in here and goes about his business, Glavine said.
Those kind of guys are always valuable to have. Hes not going to hurt
you when hes out there.
thing, because Rafael Furcal was no sooner back than he re-injured himself
and was out for the season with a dislocated left shoulder, temporarily
making DeRosa the starting shortstop. At presstime DeRosa had a .417 on-base
percentage and a .343 batting average.
the memorable evening of July 19, on his way to the ballpark, DeRosa called
his father, looking for some help.
my sounding board, DeRosa said. He told me that it looked like I was
pressing. He said, Youre in the Majors, hitting .340 and playing shortstop
for the Atlanta Braves. Go out and have some fun.
Hitting .340? DeRosa must have taken something from the conversation,
because not only did he have fun, but his Saturday-night homer also provided
some fun for most of the 46,623 fans in attendance at Turner Field. This
team doesnt expect me to go out and hit home runs, said DeRosa, who
also had a single earlier in going 2-for-4.
the mild-mannered DeRosa rounded first and saw the ball fall into the
first row of seats in left-center field, he pumped his right fist in jubilation.
took over, DeRosa said. It wasnt more than that. When I crossed the
plate, I was thinking maybe I did something wrong. But it was just emotion.
DeRosa stood in front of the Braves dugout to do a postgame interview,
the remaining fans gave him a rousing ovation that came as a pleasant
shock. It was nice, DeRosa said. I really appreciated that.
of appreciation, while DeRosa was being interviewed on the field moments
later, one of the Braves clubhouse workers jammed a whipped-cream pie
in his face. I guess its a ritual when you hit your first big league
homer, said a grinning DeRosa. It feels good to contribute.
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