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Former NBA star makes his “pitch” to the Skeeters

By Betsy Dolan 

Retired NBA All-Star Tracy McGrady (center) works with Sugar Land Skeeters catcher Koby Clemens (left) and manager Gary Gaetti at Constellation Field.

Retired NBA All-Star Tracy McGrady (center) works with Sugar Land Skeeters catcher Koby Clemens (left) and manager Gary Gaetti at Constellation Field.

Former NBA star Tracy McGrady knows just how difficult it is to chase success in another sport. He has witnessed it firsthand.

“Some of the guys I have seen play in my charity softball game is really funny to see them try to convert over to another sport,” McGrady joked. “You would think they didn’t have any skills to play any sport.”

McGrady is hoping he has the skills to pitch for the Sugar Land Skeeters of the Atlantic League. The Sugar Land resident has spent the last three months working on his pitching in hopes of achieving a child hood dream.

“Baseball was my first love and it started at the age of five,” McGrady explained to a large media gathering February 12 at Constellation Field. McGrady wasn’t able to play baseball as a high school senior after transferring high schools from Florida to North Carolina.

“So here I am 16-17 years later,” he said. “For my whole professional basketball career, I held on to that dream.”

The question remains whether McGrady can make the team. The Skeeters are still 10 weeks away from opening their season and no contract has been offered yet.

“This is a special case,” Skeeters Manager Gary Gaetti conceded. “It’s Tracy McGrady, a world class athlete basketball player who is getting a chance to play some baseball and we will see how it goes.”

McGrady estimates that he is throwing in the mid 80’s and emphasized he has to work on his velocity. He counts a split-finger pitch, a slider and a change up as part of his arsenal. His biggest strength just might be his 6’8″ frame.

“That batters eye is only 16 feet high and he is going to be way up there”, Gaetti said. “That downward tilt is impressive to watch. I am excited for him and excited for us.”

McGrady admitted it is more about the chance to fulfill a dream than anything.

“It is for the love of the game,” McGrady said. “It would be so gratifying, a dream come true. Just like all the other guys that are coming in here…I gotta make the club and we will see what happens. But I am going to give it a shot.”

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