At 35, Tracy McGrady’s journey through the world of professional baseball may be over, but no one can say he didn't go out on top.
The former seven-time NBA All-Star and two-time scoring champion signed on to pitch for the Atlantic League’s Sugar Land Skeeters in February and struggled mightily on the diamond, serving up a smorgasbord of meatballs and wild pitches from the mound.
After posting a 6.75 ERA through four regular-season games, things began to look up for the slumping pitcher. McGrady earned was given a starting spot at the Atlantic League All-Star Game this week. It didn’t matter that he had walked 10 batters in 6.2 innings of play. The league was ready to give McGrady his moment.
And what a moment it was.
Brett Dolan of CBS Houston (h/t Aaron Gleeman of HardBallTalk) reports that McGrady pitched 1.1 innings at the Atlantic League All-Star Game on Wednesday night and managed to record the first strikeout of his professional baseball career.
McGrady, feeling the momentum shifting in his favor, promptly retired from the sport, saying he had accomplished his goal.
“I told some of the guys that I am going to get a strikeout before I stop playing,” McGrady told Dolan. “I got it in the second inning. Thank you Jesus.”
McGrady called his stint with the Skeeters a “tremendous ride” and said he planned to keep the ball he recorded his strikeout with as a souvenir.
“That is definitely going in the trophy case,” McGrady said. “I got a little emotional coming off the mound. It feels good to be celebrated again.”
As dominant as McGrady proved to be on the mound, his stint in the Atlantic League Home Run Derby is what racked up the hardware for the former ballplayer.
McGrady teamed up with Lamar Little Leaguer Will Dolan to slam out six home runs—all of which were hit by Dolan. Nonetheless, McGrady hopped on Dolan’s back and rode to success, calling himself the “first Home Run Derby champion in history with no home runs.”
Indeed, McGrady didn’t smack any out of the park, but home runs are all about teamwork—that is, a team of guys standing around watching one guy work.
Congratulations, Tracy. You were to the Atlantic League what Derek Jeter is to artisanal men’s underwear: an understated, gimmicky force of nature.
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