Felix Hernandez Dedicates Start To Fallen Soldier: Throwback Thursday

mikemcdonnell
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Its been over a year since one of my best friends, Mike Lowery was tragically murdered. Mike was possibly the biggest Mariners fan I knew – other than myself. He served in the United States Army since the day we graduated from high school, and served three combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq.

It’s sad how he served our great nation, only to be cut down in cold blood on home turf. While he was overseas, whenever he got the chance, he would message me on Facebook asking me either “How are the Mariners doing?” or “How are the Seahawks doing?” He was a Seattle sports nut just like me and we had both known each other since kindergarten.

He was serving his 2nd tour over in Afghanistan when Felix Hernandez threw the first perfect game in Mariners history. Soon after the final pitch, I got onto Facebook (after tweeting about the perfect game) and messaged Mike to tell him what Felix had done.

It took him two days to finally see the message, and when he did, he messaged me back saying in all caps “YOU’RE F****** KIDDING ME?!” He loved baseball as much as he loved me as a friend and brother and member of his family.

The day that he was taken from us was a day I’ll never forget. It was a little past midnight and I had to see the news over Facebook. As soon as I saw the post from his mother telling his friends that Mike had been murdered I couldn’t hold it in. His funeral was 20 days later.

At the funeral I ran into plenty of high school buds I haven’t seen since graduation, only problem was that we came back together to morn a dear friend. It was about 20 minutes into the service that my emotions began to come out. During the last 20 minutes his parents showed us a slideshow of Mike’s life.

It wasn’t until a picture of me and Mike playing baseball in our senior came up that I lost all control and began crying very loudly. His brother Steven was there to help me through the pain of seeing the photos of perhaps the greatest friend I would ever have.

After the service I hugged Steven like I never hugged him before, both of us are in tears and Steven said to me, “You know Mike is looking down on us laughing at us cause he probably thinks were a bunch of big babies.” That was Mike, he would make you laugh no matter what happened, whether it would be a sad or happy occasion he was always there with a smart joke to poke fun at you.

After the funeral I headed home still thinking about the good times we spent together and all the times we hung out as well. It wasn’t more than 10 minutes after I got home that I took to Twitter and not expecting an answer I sent a tweet to Felix asking him if he would both dedicate and pitch for Mike, seeing how the Mariners were playing the Angels that night and Felix was on the mound.

Felix actually responded though. He sent me a DM saying that he would pitch for Mike that night and he also wanted me to tell his family that his thoughts and prayers were with them.

Two hours later, I attended a gathering at Mike’s house to celebrate his life with friends and his family. I told everyone that Felix was pitching for Mike tonight and for two hours my friends and his family spent time having drinks and bringing up stories about Mike.

The game came on and everyone was glued to the screen wanting to watch Felix pitch in Mike’s honor. Felix threw eight incredible innings striking out seven Angels hitters and only gave up two runs. The Mariners though weren’t going to let Felix walk away with a no decision in a game that he was dedicating to a fallen friend.

After falling behind 2-0 the Mariners battled back to tie things up in the bottom of the sixth thanks to a 2-run shot by Jesus Montero. In the bottom of the 7th both Kyle Seager and Mike Morse lead off with a pair of singles, and following Justin Smoak striking out, Kendrys Morales pinch-hit for Raul Ibanez and delivered what would be the go-ahead and game winning hit that drove in Seager.

Tom Wilhelmsen came into the 9th and shut the door on a brilliant performance by Felix giving him not only his 3rd win of the young season, but finished off perhaps the most emotional Mariners game I’ve ever watched.

It was the first time I cried after a Mariners game that wasn’t for just joy, but for also remembering Mike and how special this night was. Felix dedicated his performance to Mike and the Mariners helped Felix notch a win as well in the process.

Felix is one of the most caring players in baseball, to take the time to respond to my tweet asking him to pitch for Mike was so special. Not just for me but for Mike as well. I know he was looking down and watching the game with me and his friends and family.

It just shows you that ball players aren’t all about playing for the money. There are players that care about the fans and take time to do something this special for a fan who protected this great nation and who was a diehard Mariners fan.

Mike Lowery was only 22 at the time of his death. He was taken away from the people that loved him too soon and he is missed everyday by his loved ones as well. I’ll never forget the times that we spent together and even though we weren’t blood relatives, he will always be a member of my family and he will always be my brother.

RIP Mike Lowery- May 30, 1990- April 7, 2013

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