What started off as a harmless joke turned into a dream come true on July 15 when Skye Gillespie took the mound as a Macon Bacon against the Catawba Valley Stars.
Since the start of the internship on May 16, Gillespie could not stop talking about wanting to take the mound for the Macon Bacon despite being a play-by-play announcer.
“The second I stepped foot into middle Georgia, I knew that I wanted to step foot on the rubber here at historic Luther Williams Field,” Gillespie said.
Gillespie went on and on every day about how he wanted to play, but with his sarcastic and humorous personality, no one truly believed him. The vast majority of the time, anything he says is taken as a joke or snarky remark.
Even the Director of Marketing and Business Analytics, Anna Spinks didn’t think it was something that could become a possibility.
“I just thought he was joking. I didn’t think he was serious and I didn’t think head coach Soine was going to let him,” Spinks said.
After the Bacon’s game on July 14, the staff had their postgame meeting when Skye then announced that he would like to pitch in the game against the Stars scheduled for the next day.
He looked at Macon Bacon President Brandon Raphael for approval, but he was riddled with humor and confusion. The following day, Gillespie revisited the idea with Raphael before the game.
“I hired Brandon to be my agent, and he was all for this idea. At first, he thought I was joking. But like I kept saying, I talked it into reality, just keep annoying the heck out of people and making it happen.”
After the final discussion of wanting to make the magic happen, they had just one more person to get through, head coach Kevin Soine.
They were unsure of how the conversation would go, but nonetheless, they persisted and sat down with Soine to make this dream into reality.
“My goal with coach was for him to do as little talking as possible. I wanted to keep pushing my resume out there, my 2.20 ERA in high school, beautiful circle changeup, my nasty 12-6 curveball and unhittable fastball. I didn’t leave coach Kevin with an option and he had to say yes at that point.”
Once the game began, Gillespie put on that crisp white number eight jersey before heading into the press box so he was ready for the call to the bullpen. As the fourth inning came to fruition, he headed down to warm up.
It wasn’t until Gillespie got to the field that the nerves began to settle in, but that didn’t stop him.
“I’ll be honest with you, I was a touch nervous. I then simply put my game face on and tuned everything out. I was in the ‘Skye Zone’ you could say. I just locked and loaded in and pitched a gem.”
Every staff member, intern and fan were on their feet ready to watch their favorite announcer pitch an inning for the team.
However, some were delightfully in disbelief when Gillespie stepped onto the mound as if they truly couldn’t believe what they were seeing.
“I still couldn’t believe it was happening. I felt proud and excited for him though, it’s always nice seeing one of our own be part of the team,” Delaney Hudley expressed.
The energy through the crowd and staff was unmatched, cheering on Gillepsie as he rallied through each batter in the box.
Standing on the bump of Luther Williams Field was an invigorating experience for the pitcher, but what came after was heartwarming.
As children flooded the Bacon Box to run the bases and meet all the players, many went up to Skye himself to get his autograph and chat with him postgame. This special moment not only gave kids a fun opportunity, but a memory that he would never forget.
“It was a very cool moment for me as a broadcaster. I’m always up in the booth and I’m not down there interacting with fans or players as much as I want to,” he said. “The fact that countless kids came up to me asking for my autograph, it was such a cool feeling and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me.”
By: Lanie De La Milera