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Kevin Carlow didn't need his Brown education to know the score: a winless senior season in the Ivies, a wilderness on its best day for the intelligentsia of baseball. Sure, the scouts give you Ron Darling. Mostly, though, for Ivy kids, it's "not tonight, darling."
But there's always the audacious, "yeah, but what if?" Carlow, the kid from Fitch High, did touch 94 on the gun during the season, amid 30-degree weather in Washington. He's smart enough to believe that if the dream is big enough, the facts don't count.
He was ready to play in Europe. He was ready to find a regular job, if Ivy kids get regular jobs. But, you know … phones are made to ring.
"Let's just say I owe coach Drabs a lot," Carlow was saying on the phone the other day.
"Coach Drabs" is Brown coach Marek Drabinski, whose phone call to one of his former players helped Carlow get his shot.
So now Carlow joins his other two mound mates from his days at Fitch - Matt Harvey and Jesse Hahn - in professional baseball.
Carlow will report to the St. Louis Cardinals in early April for extended spring training. And a shot to make the Cards' Short Season A team in State College, Pa. We might even see Carlow pitch at Dodd Stadium this summer.
The Cardinals director of scouting, Dan Kantrovitz, is a former All-Ivy shortstop at Brown. Carlow's progression, "learning how to pitch, instead of trying to throw it by people," as he says, conspired with his character to earn him a chance.
"No guarantees," Carlow said, "but it's an opportunity."
Carlow was working at Thuzio, a New York-based online platform that connects the public with professional athletes with a variety of experiences - dinners, corporate speaking, client entertaining and events and even birthday parties. It wasn't permanent. He was headed to Spain to play.
"I was prepared for the call never to come," Carlow said.
This is a story that's beyond local boy makes good. Kevin Carlow night seem extraordinary because he was smart enough to get into Brown. Maybe even blessed with good hands, what with his dad, Steve, the mender of many a meniscus as the region's best orthopedic surgeon.
Except that he's much closer to Everyman. Lots of other kids his age throw 89-91. Lots of other kids his age aren't blessed with LeBron's body. Lots of other kids doubt whether the call will come.
And then comes the lesson for lots of other kids his age: Try to be Kevin Carlow. Open a book, be a good guy, a good teammate. Try. Persevere. No guarantee the call comes. But it might.
"I'd tell everybody to seek every opportunity you can," Carlow said. "I was ready to go to Spain where I didn't know anyone and didn't speak the language."
Carlow's chance underscores a golden era at Fitch that few schools in perhaps the country can match. Think about it: In a five-year period, a group of Fitch kids won a league basketball championship, state baseball championship (and No. 1 ranking).
There was a kid who started the All-Star game (Harvey). A kid who throws in the mid to high 90s (Hahn, now with the Padres). A kid who made it to Double-A (Matt Browning). A kid who played professional basketball in Europe (Todd Doyle). A kid who set conference passing records in college football (Justin Walz at Western New England). A kid who played college soccer (Pat Grater at Bates). A kid who threw a no-hitter in the state championship game (Eric Korteweg).
And then maybe the best of them all (Brian McGugan).
"That staff I was on at Fitch with Matt and Jesse is the best on I'll be on, probably, until I make the big leagues," Carlow said, only half jokingly.
Best part: He has his shot at the big leagues now. Turns out that hope triumphs every now and then.
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.