I hesitated to write this. There exists, after all, a perception among some that The Signal has a Hart High bias, that our logo is colored so because we bleed Hart red and that the area’s other schools play second fiddle.
It’s a false sentiment. Still, a column centered only on Hart athletes has the potential to induce a certain number of eye rolls.
Why go out of the way to highlight the school some already feel gets too much attention?
Because, for one thing, two Hart High graduates (both from the school’s 2008 varsity baseball team, no less) faced each other Monday in the 11th inning of an elimination Major League Baseball playoff game. It happened around 11 p.m. and didn’t make it in Tuesday’s paper.
The moment deserves to be in print.
Second, it provided a reminder: Yes, San Francisco Giants catcher Trevor Brown and Chicago Cubs reliever Mike Montgomery attended Hart, but in a larger sense they’re from the Santa Clarita Valley.
Fox Reporter Ken Rosenthal played to that truth, unknowingly, on Monday’s broadcast when he said the players were from Hart High “in Santa Clarita.”
You don’t have to live in Newhall to take pride in Montgomery inducing a groundout from Brown in extra innings with the Cubs leading the best-of-five series, at the time, two games to none.
You could be a Valencia High alum or have a kid at Golden Valley and still brag to a relative in Minnesota that Montgomery (who threw four scoreless innings of relief before allowing a walk-off double in the 13th) is from your community.
It’s an inclusive mindset employed by Foothill League baseball coaches.
“We’re all rooting for each other and all our kids in this valley to get up there,” said Saugus coach John Maggiora.
Part of what makes rooting for players from Hart easy for Maggiora is how modest Indians coach Jim Ozella has been, even after six former Hart players competed in the major leagues this season (including Trevor Bauer, who recently helped pitch Cleveland into the American League Championship Series).
When the Rockies “brought up (Pat) Valaika, I told Jim, ‘Congrats, another guy,’” Maggiora recalled. “He said, ‘Thanks.’”
That’s not to say it hasn’t been exciting for the longtime Indians coach. In a text late Monday responding to how special a moment it was, he said, “Awesome – Mike is pitching his rear end off.”
And Montgomery was. He entered the game in the bottom of the ninth with the score tied, 5-5, and kept it that way for four innings.
He faced three batters in the ninth and three in the tenth.
Then came the moment.
“Mike Montgomery and Trevor Brown went to the same high school, William S. Hart High School in Santa Clarita, California,” Rosenthal said as Brown adjusted his batting gloves.
“Goodness. We are in extra innings of an elimination game,” responded Matt Vasgersian, Fox’s play-by-play announcer.
Brown, Montgomery’s teammate at Hart in 2007 and 2008, grounded out to third with a runner on second and one out. San Francisco didn’t score in the inning.
Montgomery then motored on until back-to-back doubles ended the game in the 13th.
“I don’t know a baseball coach in the Santa Clarita Valley who is not rooting for all the players who played in the Foothill League to move up and do great things,” said West Ranch baseball coach Casey Burrill.
Burrill was speaking specifically about baseball, but the idea has been demonstrated in other sports.
Hart swim coach Steve Neale’s remarks about Saugus High grad and Olympic swimmer Abbey Weitzeil are always glowing.
Hundreds of SCV kids, probably destined for six or more high schools, have attended the football camp hosted by New York Giants running back Shane Vereen, a Valencia grad.
There’s no reason someone with ties to West Ranch shouldn’t pull for Vereen.
A Canyon Cowboys fanatic has no reason not to be proud of Weitzeil.
Outside of the Dodgers winning the World Series, wouldn’t we all like to see Bauer and Montgomery — who played together in ’07 and ’08 but didn’t win a CIF title — face off on baseball’s biggest stage?
“I mean, to have two guys from the same high school and same pitching rotation and the same year face off (would be incredible,)” Maggiora said.
“There’s no bias (writing about Hart) there,” he said. “That’s a good baseball story.”
A good Santa Clarita Valley baseball story.