Detroit — The second baseball player from Waterford Kettering to play Major League Baseball had himself a memorable night Friday.
Orioles lefty reliever Paul Fry, who was discovered by scouts while pitching at St. Clair Community College in 2013, was summoned to pitch the seventh inning against his boyhood team. It was the first time he’s pitched at Comerica Park, not counting a pre-draft workout he did for the Tigers six years ago.
“It was surreal,” Fry said before Saturday's game. “When I found out I was going into the game, I was like, ‘Let’s go. This is why I’m here and this is what I’ve got to do.’”
The Orioles had just extended their lead to 6-2. Still, Fry’s adrenaline spiked when he realized that after Jeimer Candelario, who led off the inning for the Tigers, he would be facing none other than future Hall-of-Famer Miguel Cabrera.
“I had to slow my heart rate down a little bit, for sure,” he said.
It didn’t show. He struck out Candelario on four pitches, freezing him with a slider after feeding him three straight fastballs at 92.5 mph.
He took a completely different tact with Cabrera. Fry never showed him a fastball, seven straight sliders, the last two with the count full. Cabrera struck out, taking a half-swing on a slider in the dirt.
Fry then finished the inning by getting Christian Stewart to ground out to second on another slider, which came after he showed Stewart five straight fastballs.
“Being here, it helped,” he said. “Throughout the stands, my whole family was here and a few friends here and there. Being back here, seeing all the ins and outs of Comerica Park, it was pretty cool.”
When the Tigers were in Baltimore this season, the first Waterford Kettering grad to play in the big leagues walked over to the Orioles clubhouse and introduced himself to Fry — Kirk Gibson. And like Gibson, Fry’s primary sport in high school was football.
Fry didn’t play baseball after the coach-pitch level until he got to Kettering.
“I was an outfielder in high school,” he said. “But I couldn’t hit because I hadn’t seen any pitches since I was little. I didn’t start pitching until my senior year.”
He had a growth spurt between his junior and senior years and his coach at Kettering, Mike Malley, seeing his arm strength on his throws from the outfield, smartly put him on the mound, where he dominated.
It was too late for Division I and Division II recruiters to get on him, which is why he ended up at St. Clair. But what they say is true, if you have talent, somebody will find you. After his sophomore season, he was drafted by the Seattle Mariners.
He got to Triple-A with the Mariners, who ended up trading him to Baltimore in 2017 to clear a roster spot, and Fry got to the big leagues a year later with the Orioles.
“Even just getting drafted and having scouts at those games out there was pretty cool,” Fry said. “It’s been a crazy journey so far, but I am happy where I’m at.”