Written by Dale Long, Assistant Director of Media Relations
Boca Raton, FL - A classic scene from the motion picture “The Rookie” has journeyman baseball pitcher Jim Morris trying to hide the fact that he’s realized his dream of playing in the major leagues during a telephone call home to his wife.
Finally, unable to hold back the exciting news any longer, Morris asks his wife to bring a sport coat to Arlington, Texas, to witness his debut as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays.
Former Florida Atlantic University pitcher Mickey Storey had a similar tale this summer when he earned a promotion to become a relief pitcher for the Houston Astros of the National League. He became the second ex-Owl this season to play in the big leagues.
“I actually knew of the promotion before the team could announce it. And, with Twitter and Facebook, it was hard to keep the news quiet,” says Storey. “I was in Tacoma, Washington, when I got called up. The next evening I had to be across the country in Atlanta for the Astros’ game against the Braves (on August 3). Luckily, my family (including wife and young daughter) got to attend the game and I made my debut that night (pitching a no-hit, scoreless two-thirds of an inning). This made it a special evening.”
Right out of Hollywood.
Ten days later, Storey had a reunion with former FAU teammate Jeff Beliveau at historic Wrigley Field on August 13. Beliveau had been a member of the Chicago Cubs’ relief pitching staff since July 22. The August game marked the first time that two former Owls baseball players had played for opposing major league teams on the same field. The 2008 graduates posed for a picture prior to a game (top).
“Jeff and I have caught up whenever we met in the minor leagues,” says Storey. “Now, we were in the big leagues—at Wrigley Field. It was an unbelievable moment for both of us.”
Making the reunion even more special was that both Beliveau and Storey made relief appearances in the three-game, mid-week series between National League Central Division rivals. Beliveau tossed a scoreless inning in the series opener, while Storey recorded three strikeouts in 1.1 innings on August 15.
“We are so proud of Mickey and Jeff. It has been fun to watch them climb through the minor leagues, and then getting promoted to the big leagues,” states John McCormack, FAU's head baseball coach. "They each have fulfilled a life-long dream. I wish both them continued success.”
Success for both pitchers shouldn’t be surprising. Beliveau, a lefthander, was named the Cubs’ Minor League Organizational Pitcher of the Year in 2011, and represented the United States in last year’s International Baseball Federation World Cup and Pan American Games. Meanwhile, the right-handed Storey is one the most famous pitchers in FAU history, tossing a no-hitter in 2006, being named the 2005 National Freshman of the Year by Collegiate Baseball, and ranking second among all pitchers in career victories (23) strikeouts (292).
Both players had spectacular major-league debuts.
The Cubs called upon Beliveau for the Cubs’ game against the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals on July 22. He retired a pair of 2012 National League All-Stars: outfielders Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran.
Storey also was successful when facing an all-star, Atlanta second baseman Dan Uggla, in his debut.
“To be honest, it felt very natural,” says Storey. “I knew that I belonged on the mound. A lot of work went into this opportunity. I was ready for the challenge.” Another big thrill came later in the season when the Boca Raton native pitched in New York against the New York Mets. (Storey’s first name came from former New York Yankee great Mickey Mantle.) Several family members and friends were in the Big Apple for this occasion.
Storey credits his determination and trusting his pitching skills in enabling him to realize his lifelong major-league dream.
“I have really thrown my slider a lot this season and have had good results with it,” admits Storey. “I have always had the ability to throw strikes. Mentally though, I kept a positive outlook and was determined to make it to the major leagues—no matter whatever obstacle came in the way. I want to leave no doubt on the field each time I take the mound.”
Finally, Storey passes along this piece of advice to current FAU players also hoping to play in the big leagues: “Never give up on your passion and dream. Baseball is a grind that’s filled with lots of highs and lows. Fighting each and every day will eventually get you to where you want to be.”
Seven former Florida Atlantic baseball players have now advanced to the major league level. Joining Storey and Beliveau on the list are Tim Harikkala (Mariners 1995-96; Red Sox 1999; Rockies 2004, 2007; Athletics 2005), Carmen Cali (Cardinals 2004-05; Twins 2007), Tommy Murphy (Angels 2006-07), Jeff Fiorentio (Orioles 2005-06, 2009; Athletics 2008) and Mike Crotta (Pirates 2011).