UNC staff ready for Harvey’s All-Star debut
North Carolina coach Mike Fox never has been to the All-Star Game. Then again, he’d never had a player give him tickets.
That will change today. Fox, pitching coach Scott Forbes and recruiting coordinator Scott Jackson will be at Citi Field in New York to watch former Tar Heels star Matt Harvey start for the National League.
“This is a cool part about our jobs,” Fox said Monday from New York. “Watching kids reach their goals and reach this kind of level. We’re happy to be here.”
It’s been a remarkable rise for Harvey, who went from UNC to starting an All-Star game in just three years. The 24-year-old righty, who has just 29 major league starts, will be the youngest starting pitcher since Dwight Gooden in 1988.
“I felt very strongly that he would pitch in the Major Leagues,” Forbes said. “But to be this successful this soon has been pretty amazing.”
Harvey, who like Gooden is representing the Mets, also will be the first pitcher to start in his home stadium since Houston’s Roger Clemens in 2004.
“Having the opportunity to take the ball is something I’ll never forget and very thankful for, especially at home,” Harvey said in a news conference Monday. “It’s my first All-Star Game and it being at home, it’s extremely special and I’m very, very thankful.”
Forbes also attended Harvey’s major league debut a year ago in Arizona, when the Connecticut native became the first pitcher since 1900 to strike out 10 and get two hits in his first game.
Harvey barely has cooled down since then. He is 7-2 with a 2.35 ERA this season and leads the NL with 147 strikeouts.
Fox and Forbes were at Durham Bulls Athletic Park last year to watch Harvey pitch against the Bulls in a Triple-A game. Not even 13 months later, the coaches will see Harvey take on Mike Trout, Robinson Cano and Miguel Cabrera.
“It’s not all about guys making the Major Leagues, because it’s just as gratifying to have a former player call you and invite you to their wedding, but it is different,” Forbes said. “A lot of these guys, their dream is to play in the Major Leagues, and you just feel lucky to have so many guys who are proud to be Tar Heels and want us to be there.”