Day 1 Draft notes
There’s something Cubs fans should know about Austin Kirk, the left-handed pitcher taken by the team in the third round of Tuesday’s First-Year Player Draft. The kid has a big heart.
Apparently, a 70-year-old man named Odis McCormack was a huge fan of the Owasso (Okla.) high school baseball team. Kirk was a star pitcher for the team and a favorite, especially after his 9-1 season and 0.45 ERA. The lefty struck out 111 in 61 2/3 innings. Kirk also hit .408 with 50 RBIs for the team.
When McCormack was battling an illness, his daughter asked the high school if some of the players could visit. They did, and McCormack and Kirk apparently hit it off. Kirk gave the gentleman one of his old jerseys and they kept in touch.
After Owasso won the state 6A championship game, Kirk called the McCormacks to tell them about the game.
“He’s a better person than he is a player and he’s a damn good player,” Owasso coach Larry Turner said of Kirk.
The players presented McCormack with a state championship medal. Last week, McCormack died, and he was buried wearing Kirk’s No. 18 jersey and with the state championship medal around his neck.
Some notes heading into Wednesday’s second day:
* Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontenot do know LSU infielder David LeMahieu, whom the Cubs picked in the second round. “We’ve been keeping tabs on him the last few years,” Fontenot said. “He’s a good ballplayer.” The three apparently worked out together before Spring Training began this year. This season, LeMahieu hit .350 in 55 games with 10 doubles, three triples, four homers and 29 RBIs. A native of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., he was drafted in the 41st round by Detroit in 2007 and, obviously, did not sign.
* Of the 616 Major League players on the 2009 Opening Day rosters to have come through the Draft, 218 of them (35.6 percent) are still members of the organizations that drafted them.
* For trivia buffs, MLB’s first Draft was in June 1965, and the Cubs had the sixth selection that year, tabbing right-handed pitcher Rick James from Coffee (Ala.) High School. The first pick? Rick Monday, who was selected by the Athletics.
– Carrie Muskat