Irish men's basketball coach Mike Brey took his job Monday night rather seriously. Called upon to throw out the first pitch at the Silver Hawks game vs Peoria, Brey wasn't fooling around.
He called up one of his prized pupils, Pat Connaughton for a workout at 4pm Monday. Connaughton doubles as a pitcher on the Irish baseball team. The two warmed up at Notre Dame before heading out to the Cove.
As Brey took the field during pre-game, his entire Irish team was there to cheer him on but Connaughton was missing. I asked Brey if this was a sign that his "pitching coach" wanted nothing to do with the Irish coach-turned-hurler.
"Connaughton is also my agent," Brey explained with a straight face. "He's out negotiating a contract in the parking lot right now. He felt so good about my warmup that he's negotiating a contract with the Peoria management. I may be on the team bus home tonight."
Just before first pitch, Connaughton arrived. He wouldn't discuss any negotiations but did praise his new pupil.
"We're going to see some gas," Connaughton said of Brey. "He likes to blow it in there. It's going to hurt the catcher's hand and he throws strikes."
As 7pm rolled around, Brey huddled up with his team and then got ready to throw out the first pitch. He was told to pitch in front of the mound. He said no way--he was throwing from the mound itself.
He called Connaughton over for some assistance before making his throw.
The chuck was a little too high so Brey immediately yelled out to get the ball back--no way was he allowing that to the be the last impression.
Pitch number two was much better as Brey threw a great strike and credited his coaching.
"Connaughton did a great job," Brey explained. "That's all Connaughton's training."
"He has like a Dontrelle Willis leg kick," Connaughton explained. "I was telling him to really incorporate that so that he's not straining the arm."
"I feel good--feel good," Brey said after the throw. "I'm a little sore. I probably won't throw for another 10 years. I wonder when the Cubs will call me up to throw. That's the next step."
Brey is good friends with Silver Hawks skipper Mark Haley and was happy to be able to come and support the Hawks. The Irish team stuck around and watched several innings of the game and chatted with any fans who stopped by to see them.