North Allegheny coach: Throwing BP to ex-Pirate Andrew McCutchen ‘surreal’
When Andrew McCutchen asked Friday on Twitter if any high school baseball coach was willing to throw some batting practice, Sean Holliday volunteered.
The North Allegheny pitching coach co-owns a training center with his brother, Brian, and throws to batters every day.
The lefty knew his arm was ready, so all Holliday needed was some help with Twitter.
“As a joke I said: ‘All right, I’ll give it a shot,” said Holliday, who was sitting with NA coach Andrew Heck in the team’s coaches office. “The funny thing about it is I’d never sent a tweet before. I usually just use Twitter to look at coaching things and retweet. I didn’t even know how to compose one. (Heck) had to show me what to hit.
“Within a couple of minutes (McCutchen) sent me a direct message back, and we went from there.”
I’m at North Allegheny HS right now. Come on up. I throw bp for a living
— Sean Holliday (@CoachSeanTCT) January 26, 2018
The former Pirate and new San Francisco Giants outfielder accepted the invite and worked out Friday in the cages at North Allegheny’s Baierl Center. McCutchen worked through his routine that started with hitting off a tee, and they progressed to soft toss, front toss and side toss, Holliday said. They worked up to live pitches and Holliday threw about 50.
In Holliday’s mind, the key was nothing high or inside.
“I was making sure to stay away from that area of the zone and just try to find the heart of the plate,” Holliday said. “Just give him what he’s looking for. I didn’t want to lob it in there. And I definitely wasn’t going to try to show him up and try to burn anything by him, if that were even possible.”
The high school’s pitchers and catchers worked out together until about noon Friday. They had left before McCutchen arrived but returned as word spread. McCutchen played catch with senior Jack Kenna and posed for a picture with NA players.
— andrew mccutchen (@TheCUTCH22) January 26, 2018
“That’s an opportunity for a guy to give back,” NA athletic director Bob Bozzuto said. “It’s something really small, but in our kids’ lives, it was huge.”
Holliday pitched for Moon from 2003-05 and earned a scholarship to Marshall. He later transferred to Slippery Rock, where he earned a degree in sports management.
His brother, Brian, who pitched for Moon from 1999-02, was a 12th-round draft pick of the Pirates in 2002, three years before the Pirates drafted McCutchen.
The brothers run Triple Crown Training in Coraopolis.
Sean Holliday joined NA’s coaching staff in 2016, but this batting practice session was different than most.
“It was a bit surreal,” Holliday said. “You really don’t expect it. But when it comes down to it, as much as we put superstars on a pedestal, they’re people, too. He was very thankful, very appreciative.”
Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.