NEW YORK — Brad Thomsen smiled, shook his head, and looked at the tall right-hander getting dressed in the visiting clubhouse at Citi Field. Thomsen has coached Chris Heston since he was a short infielder in the Bay West Little League in Palm Bay, Florida, but that’s not the entire reason Thomsen was one of 23,155 watching the Giants face the Mets on Tuesday night.
“I grew up in New York, but now I’m a teacher in Florida,” he said. “I figured this might make for a real nice trip. I picked the right night!”
Thomsen picked the best night of Heston’s career, which also happened to be one of the best nights of the coach's career. He was there with Heston in Little League and in high school, but this was the first time Thomsen had gotten the opportunity to see him pitch as a big leaguer.
Thomsen sat along the third-base dugout as Heston struck out 11 and became the first Giants rookie in 103 years to throw a no-hitter. Later, Heston brought his old coach into the swanky clubhouse. He stood and beamed as Heston spoke to reporters, and then he laughed as he happily told the story of a young Chris Heston.
“He was a really good infielder, a shortstop, third baseman ... and he pitched,” Thomsen said. “He wasn’t a star pitcher, but … then he shot up. Between his sophomore and junior years he shot up.”
Heston grew to be 6-foot-4, and this offseason he put some additional weight on that frame. He has more heft to his fastball now, and the movement is as deadly as ever. On Tuesday, Heston mixed in a dominant curveball and slider, too. That’s not what stands out to Thomsen, though.
“He loves the game,” he said. “He has a great passion for the game.”
Thomsen said that has shown in the winters, when Heston has often returned home to work out at his alma mater, Bayside High.
“That’s the kind of kid he is,” Thomsen said. “He loves the game and he is a sponge.”
And now, Heston’s name is forever in the record books.