New York - It was Thursday night in the 06355, when the man formerly known as Coach Harvey - now he's more famous as Matt's dad - walked into the Harp & Hound, Mystic's metropolis for fun, friends and a few Fosters.
Ed Harvey, once a three-time state championship baseball coach at Fitch High School, partook of what his buddies call "church," a more palatable word for their Thursday routine than, "honey, I'm going to a gin mill" to solve the world's problems for a few hours.
Harvey attended services the night before last for the first time in a few weeks. He's been a little busy, following his son, the new major leaguer, across several time zones. And this time, Ed Harvey was greeted with an ovation from the patrons, illustrating how the tentacles of Harveymania extend well beyond the big, bad city, all the way to our corner of the world.
Matt Harvey, among Mystic's favorite sons, the kid whose name has been second only to Tim Tebow lately amid all the New York sports talk blather, made his debut at Citi Field on Friday night, his first home start for the Mets. The first time a starving fan base got to see the high-octane fastball, the future, some hope.
It began at a little after 7 p.m. to the tune of Foreigner's "It Feels Like The First Time" as Harvey took the mound ? for the first time. It wobbled and jiggled early with four walks (five total), a line drive off the thigh and a two-run homer to Jason Heyward, what the Atlantans call a "Hey Bomb."
But it ended with high-fives and slaps on the back from teammates and coaches after six solid innings. Harvey, who reached 96 miles per hour with his fastball, allowed two hits and two runs and retired his last nine hitters. He was the losing pitcher, although New York's punchless lineup bore as much responsibility for the 4-0 defeat. The Mets have scored a total of seven runs in Harvey's four starts.
"He's got all the talent he needs to compete up here," New York manager Terry Collins said. "All he has to do is make pitches. We've learned a lot about him. Obviously, the arm strength is there. He's got four quality pitches. Now it's about using them effectively and trusting his stuff.
"His makeup is off the charts," Collins said. "He takes a line drive off the thigh and it's 'let's go, part of the game.' He's going to be a real good pitcher."
Harvey didn't feel like much of one after the game, lamenting the first two innings. His final four, however, were economical and effective.
"I went after them. Whether I was trying to be too fine in the first or second, it was 'here it is, hit it' after that," said Harvey, some of whose family and friends (totaling 100 strong) watched the game from a luxury box behind home plate.
"The guys behind me were making plays," he said. "I wish I figured that out in the first inning."
Harvey, 23, was just about the youngest guy on the field Friday, perhaps a more daunting predicament for other such youngins. But as New Yorkers gets to know their latest luminary, they'll discover a young man who as always been more comfortable hanging around his elders.
And not just because he's the baby of the family, the youngest of the three Harvey children, the one his mother, Jackie, used to call her "little guy."
"I'm two years older than Matt," said Bryan Rodgers, a financial analyst at General Dynamics, and perhaps Harvey's closest friend. "In high school, he was always hanging out with me and my group of friends. He dated a girl who was older. That's one of the reasons, I think, he's such a mature guy."
Harvey's life has changed exponentially in the last two weeks. And not that it was ever boring. This is the same kid who drew gaggles of scouts to the Fitch baseball field, later pitched at North Carolina, on Cape Cod and various minor league outposts. It was all prologue to The Call.
Finally, after starts in Arizona, San Francisco, San Diego and the requisite cross-country flight home, he spent this past Monday, an off day, in Mystic. At home. Harvey relaxed with a few friends - Rodgers and former Old Lyme and Brown University great Ryan Zrenda among them. He got to be a regular guy again. Or as regular as you can be when you finish your job and see 30 reporters coming at you on a safety blitz, armed with cameras and recorders.
Rodgers said Harvey's quiet time is nothing more than a trip to Watch Hill for some beach time and some fishing. And not talking baseball. They talk fishing the most, Rodgers said, followed by what they might do in the offseason and girls, not necessarily in that order.
"I'd say fishing is the thing he loves to do the most," Rodgers said. "I think we get along well because I'm really not a big baseball fan. I played tennis in high school. We don't ever talk baseball. Maybe he likes that. Nobody telling him what he needs to work on."
There will be plenty of that in New York. One week into Harvey's career, after promising starts in Arizona and San Francisco, the first line of a lengthy - and presumptuous - feature in the New York Daily News read, "What will Matt Harvey become, and how much hope does he represent for the Mets?"
Scouts have already been quoted anonymously comparing Harvey to Zack Wheeler, the Mets' top pitching prospect.
A New York Post columnist wrote last week that Harvey keeps a pitching journal on his iPad, "explaining (his latest) adjustment to The Post in a quiet corner of the visitor's clubhouse." As if they were discussing international espionage.
It makes for a fascinating case study for stoics everywhere. What happens when you go from Jackie Harvey's "little guy" in Mystic, Conn., to having your every utterance given spiritual significance in the city where Sinatra started spreadin' the news?
"One thing about Matt," Rodgers said, "is that he's never one to get too excited or riled up about much. That helps. He's very thoughtful about everything he says."
Or as pitching coach Dan Warthen has described him, "old school and loquacious."
Harvey handled himself with professionalism that belied his 23 years after Friday's game. Finally, after the media crush left, it was Harvey and a familiar face, allowing him to relax a little and crack an occasional grin. He loved the story of the ovation for his dad at the Harp the night before.
Matt Harvey, major leaguer.
"It's awesome. It's hard to explain," Matt Harvey said. "Awesome. The biggest stage."