Phillies preparing special souvenirs for James Norwood after first big-league win


NEW YORK — James Norwood awakened Sunday morning still feeling the excitement of earning his first big-league win the night before.

But Norwood wanted something a little more tangible than just a great memory.

A game ball, perhaps?

Amidst the excitement of the Phillies’ late-game rally, which led to a 4-1 win over the New York Mets at Citi Field on Saturday night, no one thought to grab a game ball for Norwood. The Phils were still trailing, 1-0, when the right-hander came in and kept things close with a scoreless inning in the bottom of the sixth.

In the top of the seventh, Kyle Schwarber clubbed a two-run homer to give the Phillies the lead.

In the dugout, Norwood began to do the math in his head.

“As soon as Kyle hit the home run, I’m thinking, two-run bomb, we got the lead, I wonder if this might be it,” Norwood said.

Sure enough, his bullpen brethren closed it out and, in his 35th big-league appearance spread over five seasons with three clubs, the 28-year-old pitcher had his first big-league win.

But he had no ball.

No problem.

Upon arriving for work Sunday, Norwood mentioned his desire to have a game ball to clubhouse man Dan O’Rourke. O’Rourke runs the umpires’ clubhouse back at Citizens Bank Park so he knows all the tricks. There’s always a stash of balls from the previous night’s game in the umpires’ room. With a little help from his Mets counterparts, O’Rourke secured a couple of balls that were used in the game for Norwood. 

Norwood will not get the balls for a week or so as the Phillies will have them officially labeled with the details from the occasion. One of them, along with an official lineup card from the game, will be made into a souvenir wall plaque that will forever remind Norwood of the moment he had long waited for.

Norwood’s first big-league win, of course, was bittersweet. It came just a few miles from where he grew up, on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, and just a few weeks after his dad, Mark, died suddenly at home at the age of 74.

The day after his first big-league win, James Norwood talked about how he thought of his dad after the game and how much he wished he could have called him after the big moment. Even better, he wished his dad could have been in the stands. 

“It’s what he taught me to do,” Norwood said of the game of baseball.

Norwood’s mom, Choosri, was with family and not at the game, but James’ wife, Meredith, and other relatives and friends were there to share in the victory.

After the game, Norwood was on the receiving end of an old baseball tradition, a celebratory beer and shampoo dousing by teammates in the clubhouse. The cheers for Norwood were so loud that they could be heard through the cinder block walls in the hallway outside the clubhouse.

A win, a celebration and soon a couple of game balls. 

One for the pitcher, one for his dad.

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