Aaron Barrett (2013, 2019) – 1-3 57 saves, 2.45 ERA, WHIP 1.07, 131 K
Ahead 8-4 in last year’s opening day game against the Baysox, Harrisburg Senators manager Matt LeCroy made a familiar call to the bullpen for the final three outs. The door swung open, the recognizable opening to Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” came on the PA system, and Aaron Barrett jogged to the FNB Field mound.
Media members are not supposed to cheer in the press box, but sometimes they root with all of their hearts. I can tell you that’s true because I did that night in his return to City Island.
It was just the first of a 140-game season, but for Barrett, it was another step in his long, arduous journey back from Tommy John surgery and subsequent broken humerus he suffered during rehab.
I had covered him back in 2013 when he saved 26 games and helped the Senators reach the Eastern League finals for the first time since 2002. During that season, I came to know the man they call “Bear” as a compassionate, straight-shooter who almost always wore a smile on his face.
I cannot imagine the inner courage, faith, and perseverance he had to get on the bump day after day, fighting the doubt and pain. I’ve read the accounts, and I’ve heard the story of the journey back. It still amazes me.
So to see him set down the final three Bowie batters in order last year was one of those moments I’ll never forget.