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Little Ace

Local youth baseball player tosses first pitch at Coors Field

— Steamboat Springs’ Josh Carlson had the dream of many Colorado boys come true Wednesday night. He pitched at Coors Field.

The 11-year old boy with hopes of playing in the pros was selected to throw the ceremonial opening pitch before Colorado’s game against the Atlanta Braves. Carlson’s name was randomly drawn from out of 15,000 Rockies Rookies members, the team’s youth fan club.

While the Rockies might have struck out with a 7-2 loss against the Braves, Carlson threw Rockies’ Terry Shumpert a strike of his own.

“My stomach was doing flip-flops,” Carlson said of his chance to throw on the Coors Field’s pitching mound in front of the Rockies’ crowd.

“It was cool, very cool,” he said.

Carlson, who has participated in Steamboat Springs’ baseball program since T-ball, was one of six honorary guests to pitch after the national anthem played.

With the announcer’s words, “just give him a fastball,” Carlson let lose with a pitch that Rockies mascot Dinger ruled as a strike.

“Dinger called it a strike, but I think it might have been a ball,” Carlson admitted.

Carlson’s mother, Cindy, assured his pitch was indeed a strike, one of the few thrown by the honorary guests.

Carlson’s fellow pitchers were receiving Pioneer Awards, which honors contributions to baseball since 1880, and included baseball greats like the 1978 World Series Yankee, Goose Gosling.

Although Carlson was able to sleep the night before, he did admit to having some pregame butterflies.

“I knew there would be a lot of people there. I was very, very nervous,” Carlson said. “I wasn’t excited until I got to the game.”

A representative from the Rockies Rookies called Carlson the previous Thursday and told him his name had been drawn.

Rockies Rookies is for fans 15 years or younger and provides opportunities for members like running the bases at Coors Field, a MVP party and a baseball clinic.

A Little Leaguer who has played first and second base, catcher and even pitcher, Carlson set up some practice time before Wednesday’s game. But Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday’s rains prevented Carlson from getting on Steamboat’s baseball fields.

The rain did not stop Carlson from throwing tennis balls against his house, his pitches leaving green blotches, his mother said. Carlson also got in some last minute throws in the stadium parking lot.

Regulations did not allow Carlson to get the two Rockies he met, Shumpert and left-hand pitcher Mike Myers, to sign the ball he threw. But, a chance ride in the elevator with Gosling did provide the signature of one of baseball’s legends.

The ball now has a special place on his bedroom shelf among his sports trophies.

Though Carlson will not return to the Rockies pitching mound any time soon, he has become something of a celebrity with his Little League teammates.

“Most are jealous,” Carlson said. “But, (they)

congratulate me.”

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