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East County Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2009 10 years ago

Star-studded treatment

by: Jen Blanco Sports Editor

RIVER CLUB — Casey Mulholland grew up dreaming of playing in the big leagues.

Little did he know at the time that one of baseball’s most sacred ballparks would one day set the stage for his major league debut.

And as he stood on the pitcher’s mound gazing around Wrigley Field in Chicago for the first time, Mulholland couldn’t help but think back to the countless stories he’d been told of the magic that lies within the ballpark’s hallowed walls.

“I had never been to Wrigley Field before… I had only heard stories about it,” Mulholland said. “I heard it’s a magical place, and just to be given the opportunity to play on it — it’s unbelievable.”

The Pendleton School at IMG Academies senior was one of 36 players selected to play in the 2009 Under Armour All-America Baseball Game Aug. 8 at Wrigley Field. Mulholland learned two weeks ago he would be playing for Team One in the game, which pits the top players in the country against one another.

“Obviously, having the chance to be playing at Wrigley Field is extremely exciting,” the 6-foot-3 right-handed pitcher said. “It’s such a great honor to be considered one of the top 36 in the country because there are so many great players out there.”

After arriving in Chicago Aug. 6, Mulholland attended a team meeting before heading off to have his picture taken with Hall-of-Famer Cal Ripken Jr. The following day Mulholland enjoyed some one-on-one tutoring with the former shortstop during batting practice.

“It was amazing,” Mulholland said of meeting Ripkin. “I actually got to hit with him and talk to him in the cage. He said he really like my swing, and it was great getting to shake his hand.

“Any time you can get information from a Hall-of-Famer — it’s mind-blowing because the guy knows so much,” he added.

After batting practice, the two teams headed out to U.S. Cellular Field, where they were announced prior to watching the Chicago White Sox battle the Cleveland Indians. The players left before the game was over, but not before Mulholland snagged a clump of grass from behind home plate to commemorate the trip.

Mulholland pitched one inning for Team One, allowing one homerun while striking out one. And although he didn’t get a chance to swing the bat during the game, Mulholland got the call to pinch run late in the game but he was eventually caught trying to steal third base.

“I really enjoyed it, and it was a great experience to be on the mound playing on national television,” Mulholland said. “I didn’t get to hit in the game, but I got dirty. I got some Wrigley clay on me.”

After the game, Mulholland and his teammates spent time signing autographs on everything from books to baseballs.

“I would say definitely getting to sign autographs was the (best) part of the trip,” Mulholland said. “I gave away a batting glove, and it was fun having kids interested in you. For the first time, you really feel like a major-leaguer.”

Mulholland is set to begin his senior season this year and already has committed to play baseball next year for Ole Miss. But after dreaming of playing in the big leagues for so long, Mulholland would be more than happy to return to Wrigley Field one day and add another piece of ivy to his collection.

“At this point, I don’t think many other people have the opportunity to play at Wrigley Field, so it’s definitely something I’m going to cherish for the rest of my life,” Mulholland said.

Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].

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