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SEATTLE -- Andy Pettitte won his first game in the major leagues on June 7, 1995, when his son Josh, the first of four Pettitte sons, was seven months old.
Nearly two decades later, Andy Pettitte has 250 wins and Josh Pettitte is, for now, a member of the New York Yankees organization, having been selected in the 37th round of this year's MLB draft.
The fact that both happened on the same day, at virtually the same time, made Saturday a memorable day in the history of the Pettitte family of Deer Park, Texas.
"It's special," said Andy Pettitte, who pitched into the eighth inning of the Yankees' 3-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field. "I'll remember this one, that's for sure."
|Shortly after Andy's day was done, he got the good news from Josh.|
"It's a great honor and blessing getting the call from the team that you've grown up watching and all the big leaguers play for," said Josh Pettitte, a slightly smaller and decidedly younger version of his soon-to-be 41-year-old father.
If genetics holds up, Josh Pettitte -- who pitched two no-hitters this season -- will still be pitching and winning major league games in the year 2037. And the way Andy Pettitte pitched on Saturday, he might be, too.
But even if it turns out to be a short-lived story -- both father and son insisted that 18-year-old Josh, a senior at Deer Park High School, would attend Baylor University before re-entering the draft three years from now -- it put smiles on the faces of everyone in the postgame clubhouse beyond what would be expected after a win over the rather harmless Mariners.
There was Joba Chamberlain aiming a camcorder at the media scrum surrounding Josh Pettitte, and Robbie Cano craning his neck from across the room to get a better look, and Mariano Rivera, who for the 71st time saved a Pettitte victory, looking as happy as if it were one of his own four ballplaying sons.
"I mean, I celebrate the same as he does," Rivera said. "For me, it's the same joy that he has. Knowing that I [have] been there for every one of them and being able to contribute a little bit to his success, I'm happy as he is."
Even if it was done more as a symbolic gesture and a courtesy, the drafting of Josh Pettitte by the Yankees was probably the only event that could have eclipsed an accomplishment as important as Andy Pettitte's 250th win, a milestone achieved by only 42 other pitchers, 31 of whom are in the Hall of Fame.
The news arrived via telephone to the Yankees clubhouse during the eighth inning of the game, while Andy was in the shower, having just been removed from the game, and Josh was sitting on the clubhouse couch watching the conclusion and hoping that the Yankees bullpen could preserve the two-run lead.
"I was actually shaving, and I come walking out here and he was on the phone," Andy Pettitte said. "He told me he had just spoke with [scouting director Damon Oppenheimer]. I just gave him a big hug and a kiss and told him I love him and I'm proud of him and said let's see what happens three years from now. Dad wants him to go to school."
Dad is likely to get his way, since the money for a 37th-round draft pick is not likely to dissuade Josh from pursuing a course of study in sports management along with his baseball career, even if it means that, three years from now, he might well be drafted by a different organization.
"I guess it's exciting, that's for sure, but I still feel like he's got a lot of maturing to do," Andy Pettitte said. "I'm hoping he goes to college and gets a little bigger and stronger on his own without dealing with professional baseball."
Josh Pettitte is listed as 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds but appears a bit smaller. Andy Pettitte, of course, is fully grown and as maturely developed as any pitcher in the game.
He mowed through the first nine hitters he faced on Saturday before Jason Bay led off the fourth with a single. The Mariners wound up with a run that inning because what looked like a double play ball was bobbled by Jayson Nix, which lengthened the inning enough for Michael Morse to drive Bay in with a sacrifice fly.
Pettitte then retired the next 10 hitters he faced before allowing a leadoff single to Nick Franklin in the eighth. After retiring Michael Saunders on a foul pop, Pettitte left the game for his memorable clubhouse moment with Josh, and Joe Girardi went to his bullpen, from which first David Robertson and then Rivera put the final touches on win No. 250.
By that point, the Yankees had taken a 3-1 lead on a pair of RBI singles by Nix, who atoned for his misplay quite nicely. They also got three hits out of Brett Gardner, including two doubles, and two singles out of the struggling Vernon Wells, who had not had a multihit game since May 13.
"It's big," Girardi said. "We know how tight our division is, and we know how tough he has been on us. Now, we have to figure out a way to scratch out some runs tomorrow."
On Sunday, the Yankees face King Felix Hernandez in the series finale, but on Saturday afternoon, such matters seemed mundane and unimportant compared to what happened between Andy and Josh Pettitte a week before Father's Day and 18 years and a day after the father's first major league win.
"It's definitely a huge day for him," Andy said. "It's all tied in together now for me, though. It's like I can't separate them because they're both together. It just all happened right here, and the game was ending, so it's just really cool."