OREM Kyle Hurst couldn't take the suspense much longer.
The 6-foot-4, right-handed pitcher from Gilbert, Ariz., was in St. George a couple of weeks ago to attend the wedding of a cousin, while the Major League Baseball First-Year Player draft was taking place. But Hurst was having trouble finding a computer with Internet access to find out if he had been selected or not.
"I was trying to follow the draft the best I could because I knew I had a chance to go the second day," he said. "I was waiting and looking for an Internet connection."
Waiting alongside was his dad, Bruce Hurst, a former big league pitcher and a St. George native. They stopped by an Ace Hardware store owned by Kyle's uncle. Then a phone call came from a friend of the Hursts, informing them Kyle had been picked in the 36th round by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He was later assigned to play for the Angels' rookie-league affiliate, the Orem Owlz.
"We were shocked," Kyle recalled about the draft-day experience. "We were in a storage room in the back of the store. There were a lot of high-fives, a lot of hugs. I'm glad my dad was there. It was a shock because this has been a dream. Every little kid wants to play in the big leagues and have a chance to make it there. When I heard my name called, the reality of the dream came true."
That dream begins in earnest tonight for Kyle, who is scheduled to make his first professional start as the Owlz take on Ogden at 7 at Brent Brown Ballpark. Kyle only vaguely remembers his dad's Major League career. He was less than a year old when Bruce Hurst and Roger Clemens helped lead the Boston Red Sox to the 1986 World Series.
Hurst won two games in the series and was set to be named the MVP, until the New York Mets staged an improbable comeback and defeated the Red Sox in seven games.
Hurst won 88 games for the Red Sox in nine years, highlighted by his best season in 1988, when he posted an 18-6 mark. During his 15-year career, Hurst compiled a 145-113 record, including stops in San Diego, Colorado and Texas. He finished with 1,689 strikeouts, a 3.92 ERA, 83 complete games, 23 shutouts and 2,417.1 innings pitched in 379 Major League games.
"I don't remember much about him playing in Boston," he said. "I was four years old when he signed with San Diego. I remember more of San Diego, going down to the clubhouse after the games."
Kyle Hurst is hoping the next time he graces a big league clubhouse, it will be as a player. What did he learn from his dad about pitching? "Working hard," Kyle said. "It comes down to hard work and preparation, and that's what my dad taught me."
When his schedule permits, Bruce plans to watch Kyle pitch this summer. Last February, Bruce was named Special Assistant for Player Development with the Red Sox, and he also is working extensively with Major League Baseball International, having coached the Chinese national team in 2005. "He might have a couple of opportunities to watch me play here in Orem," Kyle said.
Kyle served an LDS mission to Stockholm, Sweden, from 2004-06, then enrolled at South Mountain Community College in Phoenix, Ariz. "It's a great program with great coaches," he said. "They helped me a lot to get here."
Hurst said he's still making adjustments after taking two years off from baseball to serve a mission.
"I think I'm still getting over it a little bit, to be honest," he said. "A lot of cobwebs have to get worked out after two years of doing a lot of walking. It was good, a nice rest for my arm. I'm 22, but my arm is fresh."
Of course, possessing good bloodlines is no guarantee of success in professional baseball. But Owlz manager Tom Kotchman said having had a former big-league pitcher for a dad will benefit Kyle.
"His dad had a long, distinguished career in the Major Leagues and stuff like that," Kotchman said. "Sometimes you're always compared to your dad or whatever. That's nice. It's something to be very proud of. Obviously, a lot of this stuff doesn't surprise him. Anybody who grows up in or around the game has an advantage because they're not surprised by certain things."Now Kyle Hurst has the chance to live a dream, uphold the family name and make a name for himself in professional baseball.
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