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Column

Move over J.A. Happ, here comes Mom

Sue Happ got to spend Mother's Day with her son J.A. at the ballpark in Toronto, shown here on the Blue Jays Twitter feed.
Sue Happ got to spend Mother's Day with her son J.A. at the ballpark in Toronto, shown here on the Blue Jays Twitter feed.

J.A. Happ has made a successful career pitching in the Major Leagues, now in his 11th year and winner of 67 Big League games.

But is he the best pitcher at home?

His mother, Sue Happ, of Peru made her own Big League debut Sunday in Toronto, throwing out the first pitch for Mother’s Day. Sue said when her son first called, she thought it was to see if she could babysit his baby boy, J.J.

“It was wonderful of the Blue Jays to ask us to do that,” Sue said.

Sue didn’t take this moment lightly, after all her son is a big leaguer. She practiced for a week leading up to the big moment with her husband, Jim, in the family’s backyard in Peru, undoubtedly where father and son had a game of catch for many years.

However, she told Jim she didn’t want to throw too much at home and get a sore arm. She needed to be fresh for Toronto.

She was escorted to the mound by Ace, the Blue Jays’ mascot, standing in front of a large Mother’s Day crowd at the Rogers Centre. The pitch was a good one, just a little inside to a right-handed batter. The best part was she got to have her son as the catcher.

“J.A. told me I nailed it,” Sue said.

J.A. said his mom was pretty cool out there.

“I thought she did amazing. You’d think your first time throwing in front of 45,000 people you would nervous, but she handled it great,” J.A. said via a text Wednesday afternoon from San Francisco.

Sue likened the moment to “when your kids get married and it comes in a blink of an eye. It was a super connection for J.A. and I.”

J.A. walked his family off the field and by the time they made it to their seats, he had already texted his mom a Mother’s Day message and told her she did a great job.

“It was all very heart-warming,” Sue said.

Here is a link to that mother’s day moment: http://m.mlb.com/video/v674091183/wshchc-baez-delivers-a-walkoff-homer-in-the-13th/?query=Susan%2BHapp.

Of course, while there, grandma and grandpa got to spoil their grandson, J.J, son of J.A. and the former Morgan Cawley, also from St. Bede. He’s a little smiler, his grandparents say.

Perhaps spurred by his mom’s pitch, J.A. was superb two nights later when he took the mound in San Fran. The 33-year old lefty threw 8.2 innings of shut-out ball on the way to a 4-0 win over the Giants. The lefty improved to 5-0 with 2.05 ERA with 30 strikeouts.

The Happs stayed up to watch the late-night game on the West Coast as they always do when their son pitches. Sue texted her son afterward and told him he did a good job. He replied and said, ‘Thanks. Now get to bed, it’s late.”

We’ll have to see what the Blue Jays have in store for Father’s Day. Jim better start practicing his pitch.

• Redbird Ruth: While on the subject of cool moms, I want to give a shout-out to my mother, Ruth Ann Hieronymus, of Atlanta, Ill. “Redbird Ruth” texts with updates on Cardinals games for games I’m unable to watch or listen to. I’ve been blessed to have her all my life and I don’t know what I’d do without her.

• Making a pitch for the Negro Leagues: Phil Dixon of Kansas City, Mo., will make stops on his national speaking tour next week in Spring Valley and Princeton to promote diversity through baseball history, primarily, the Negro Leagues. He will present the unique history of the Kansas City Monarchs, African-American baseball stars and games played in our area.

His first stop will be Monday, May 16, at the Spring Valley library speaking at 6 p.m. He will come to the Princeton Public Library, Tuesday, May 17, at 6:30 p.m. Dixon plans to visit 108 cities in 2016-17.

I’ve spoken to Phil on the phone and he is a very pleasant gentleman. You will want to be sure, in particular all baseball fans, to hear Phil speak one of these two nights.

• In closing, I would like to offer my condolences to the family of Duane “Palsy” Rakestraw, 81, of Mineral, who passed away April 30. “Palsy” was the face of the old Mineral Leopards basketball teams (1941,’42, ‘47, ‘50, ‘51, ‘52) we inducted into the Bureau County Sports Hall of Fame in 2004 and was highly respected in his hometown.

Kevin Hieronymus is the BCR Sports Editor. Contact him at khieronymus@bcrnews.com.

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