Carey named West’s All-Star MVP
Most high school baseball players in Michigan dream of playing on a Major League Baseball (MLB) field but only a select few ever get to realize that fantasy. Two local players, Tecumseh High School’s Phil Carey and Clinton High School’s TJ Baker, were two of the lucky players who earned the right to compete on the home field of the Detroit Tigers on Thursday, July 10, as members of Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association’s (MHSBCA) West All-Star team.
While the East All-Star team was loaded with quality players, including MLB 2014 draft pick Dazen Cole (West Bloomfield, selected by Atlanta Braves), the West team’s All-Stars proved they were no benchwarmers and won the game 19-7.
Both of the local players wore their home school uniforms during the game at Comerica Park.
“It was a once in a lifetime experience,” said Carey of being selected and offered playing time with the all-stars. “To play at that level with guys from across the state who are top of the class, guys I’ve been hearing about for the last couple of years, big names in Michigan, at Comerica Park where all these incredible games have been played by the Tigers. It was awesome.”
Carey will especially remember running onto the field from the bullpen where he had warmed up for an inning on the mound.
“Running in from the bullpen before I pitched, I was looking around the stadium taking it all in,” he added. “Seeing the lights and all the people. It was cool.”
Carey, a 2013 Tecumseh graduate heading to NCAA Division II Hillsdale College in the fall, was named MVP for the West team, driving in a game-high five runs to lead the West to the victory. Carey went 2-for-3 at the plate with a double, a sacrifice fly, a hit-by-pitch, two runs scored, a stolen base and five RBIs.
“They were good pitchers but we just had a lot of really good hitters on the team,” Carey said. “I played on a great team. All of those guys are really great players.”
Carey was well aware of the type of top caliber players he would play with and be up against. His teammate Baker was one of them. The two have played together on the same summer-ball team, American Legion Post 275, for the past two seasons.
“TJ’s a great guy. I love playing with him,” said Carey. “He’s a real good ballplayer.”
The East All-Stars scored the first run of the game in the opening inning. However, the West scored five huge runs in the second inning and another run was added in the third inning before the East hit the scoreboard again.
Carey pitched the entire fifth inning. When he was sent in on relief the West held a 6-1 lead, but after giving up a two-run home run, the East was within three runs heading into the sixth inning.
“I thought I did pretty well. I could have gone without giving up a two-run home run,” Carey commented of his one-inning pitching outing.
Carey said he knew the guy who hit the home run, getting to know him the night before during the banquet.
“He’s really a great guy so giving it up to him wasn’t too painful... I don’t know what the count was. I just remember looking up at the scoreboard to watch the replay and it was a good pitch for him to hit. I left it up a little bit.”
The official scorecard had Carey giving up two runs on two hits while striking out two.
His parents, Tom and Kathi, owners of the Dog House Restaurant in Tecumseh, ordered the DVD of the game so Phil could watch the entire contest later.
When not on the mound, Carey also covered third base for the last four innings of the game.
Baker also played in the game. Baker, who has committed to NCAA Division I Ball State, crunched an RBI triple during the West’s five-run second inning and later added a diving catch at shortstop.
“That was a nice triple he hit,” said Carey. “It was something special to watch.”
Baker, Clinton’s main pitcher last season, wasn’t sent out to the mound in the All-Star game.
Carey helped the West secure the win with a three-run double in the eighth inning to set the score at 11-5.
Phil was no stranger to Comerica Park. He and his family have attended a couple of MLB games there.
“We went to an American League Championship Series game last year against the Red Sox,” said Phil. “So we got to see the Tigers beat them at home. That was a really cool game. Just playing on the same field brought back all those memories, looking around and seeing all those fans.”
Also attending the game to support Phil were his Tecumseh and summer-ball coaches, family and friends. “I can’t thank them enough for everything they’ve done the last couple of years,” Phil said. “They’re a huge reason why I was out there. Everything they’ve done for me — my family, friends, and coaches — it was unbelievable.”