By Bill Tamburrino
If it seemed a little quiet in Ramona on Friday night, it’s because the noisiest Ramonans were at Petco Park cheering the arrival of Ramona’s own, Nick Vincent, for his major league debut.
Vincent, who is playing for the Tucson Padres, San Diego Padres Triple-A affiliate, was almost to his apartment when he got a call from his manager, former Padres Terry Kennedy, at about 11:45 last Thursday night.
He made a U-turn and went back to the Kino Sports Complex to pick up his
equipment and then returned to his home to pack. He called his mom and dad, Jill and Randy, and got about as much sleep as one could get with the excitement of being promoted to the major leagues and a 6 a.m. wake-up call to get to the Tucson airport to catch a flight to San Diego.
Before Vincent touched down in San Diego, most of the baseball fans in Ramona knew about his good fortune and were planning a road trip to Petco Park. The social media was working overtime in the Valley of the Sun.
Ramona High School baseball coach Dean Welch caught a few innings of the girls’ softball playoff game after his practice and was all smiles. Vincent is the first Ramona High athlete to be called up to the 25-man major roster and Welch’s first player to make it to the bigs.
Welch must have used his favorite word — “outstanding” — just over 100 times when someone would ask him what he thought about Nick’s call up.
Vincent arrived in San Diego on Friday morning and was met by his mom and dad. The Ramona contingent started arriving at Petco at about 6 p.m. They made their presence known both in the stands where they went crazy when Vincent got up to warm up in the bullpen in the sixth inning and at the beverage stands in the area.
“After I started throwing, they calmed down a little bit,” he said. “It made it easier knowing that they were all there supporting me.”
Vincent warmed up but didn’t get a chance to get into the game.
“It was an awesome day,” he said. “I must have been working on adrenalin, because I
never got too excited. Seeing my parents reminded me of how I started playing baseball at 5 and playing catch with my dad. My mom and dad have been there every step of the way. My brother, Pher, has been playing catch with me since he could pick up a ball. I got emotional.”
Vincent met Hall of Famer and Padres legend Dave Winfield when he arrived at Petco. He and the Padres were wearing throwback uniforms that the club wore in Winfield’s days with the club.
Vincent is a product of the Padres farm system. He played at Ramona High School, Palomar College and Long Beach State before signing with the Padres. He has made every step there is to be made in the Padres farm system from the short season to Low A, High A, Double A and Triple A.
He was placed on the 40-man roster in the off season and made a strong bid to make the club in spring training but suffered a high ankle sprain that kept him in Arizona for all of April for rehabilitation and extended spring training. He was called up to Tucson where he got three appearances before being called up to the Padres.
Vincente was optioned back to Tucson on Sunday. Ironically, the Padres could have used him on Sunday, because they went 13 innings and had to use a pitcher as a pinch hitter, Clayton Richards, to win the game.
Vincent got a taste of his dream — big league baseball.