By Mitch Silver
Fewer than six years after pitching Rye High School to the Sectional finals and being named to the All-Section team, George Kirby took the ball for the Seattle Mariners against the New York Mets at Citi Field last Saturday night. The rain delayed the game for more than an hour, keeping the tarp on the infield and dampening the clothes, but not the spirits, of more than 300 of George’s family and friends who made the short trip to watch him work.
Taken 20th overall in the 2019 Major League Draft out of Elon University, George had made his big-league debut six days earlier, pitching six scoreless innings against the Tampa Bay Rays on Mother’s Day while striking out seven. It was the best debut performance by a Mariners’ pitcher in the team’s history.
In front of his parents, George and Linda, as well as his high school coach Mike Bruno and a whole section of friends and supporters holding up signs and cheering every out, he pitched four innings once the game against the Mets finally got underway, giving up a single earned run on three hits while striking out one and walking one.
In his junior season at Elon, Kirby was named the Colonial Athletic Association Pitcher of the Year after an 8-2 season with a 2.75 ERA, striking out 107 and yielding only six walks across 88⅓ innings. Before getting called up to the majors this season, he started five games for Seattle’s Double-A affiliate, the Arkansas Travelers, posting a 2-0 record and 1.82 ERA, with 32 strikeouts over 24⅔ innings.
Asked how it felt to watch his former player pitch in the majors, Bruno replied: “It was amazing. You could not have written a better script. Rye High School has a rich tradition in all sports; it was so great to see everyone there supporting him. It made for a fun and exciting night. So happy for him and his family.”