It was Sunday, May 17, 1998. On that day, David Wells pitched a perfect game at Yankee Stadium against the Minnesota Twins.The feat inspired a young boy by the name of Kyle McGowin, who was in attendance that day, to realize that his dream was to become a Major League Baseball player.
Fifteen years later, that dream finally came true for McGowin.
The Sag Harbor resident, who graduated from Pierson High School in 2010, was drafted on Friday by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim with the 157th pick in the fifth round of Major League Baseball’s First-Year Player Draft. It was the Angels’ fourth pick of the draft, and McGowin was the third right-handed pitcher selected by the American League team.
McGowin was surrounded by some family and friends when he learned of the news on Friday afternoon while watching the draft on MLB Network. Shortly after he saw his name on TV, McGowin received a call from his advisor and then got a call from Angels scout Todd Hogan welcoming him to the organization.
McGowin said he was surprised to be picked by the Angels since his advisor told him a number of other teams sounded more interested.
“It’s definitely awesome,” he said. “It still hasn’t hit me yet. It’s hard to describe it. It’s something you just dream about until it happens.”
According to Sean Crowley, who was the varsity head coach at Pierson from 1987
to 2009 and coached McGowin during his high school years, McGowin is the first former Pierson player to be drafted by Major League Baseball. McGowin is only the third player to be drafted from Savannah State University, the first since 2003.
Crowley also coached McGowin’s father, Shaun, in the late 1980s.
“It was pretty neat seeing [Kyle] grow and to coach him as a high school kid,” he said. “Anytime you can coach the father and the son, that’s pretty neat.”
Crowley said that McGowin became a regular in the Pierson starting rotation by his sophomore season, and he was impressed with his smooth pitching delivery. “He was always very competitive,” he said. “Competitive but under control. He was a very confident young man.”
McGowin, a junior, had the option of returning to Savannah State for his senior season, but on Sunday he said he will forgo his final year of eligibility and report to the Angels’ farm system.
McGowin gave a lot of credit to Savannah State head coach Carlton Hardy and his coaching staff for making him a better player. “It was definitely a great experience,” McGowin said. “Each year was just a building year, and they got me to where I am today, and I’m very grateful for them.”
The 6-foot-4-inch, 185-pound right-hander had his best season in college this past spring. McGowin was one of 30 semifinalists for the Golden Spikes Award, which is given to the top college baseball players in the country, and is one of 10 semifinalists for the National Pitcher of the Year.
McGowin went 12-2 for the Tigers, with a 2.02 earned run average, and set a single-season school record with 135 strikeouts. He pitched the Tigers to their first Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Championship in May—in the title game, he threw a 10-inning complete game shutout, with 11 strikeouts—which earned the program’s first Division I NCAA Regional bid.
McGowin doesn’t know yet where exactly he’ll be reporting for the Angels, but, wherever he goes, he wants to finish his criminal justice degree. He has already transferred his credits from Savannah State to the University of Tampa, the school he originally targeted out of high school, but he couldn’t get a scholarship to play baseball there. Now, he will attend the school strictly for academic purposes, although it may take him a while to get his degree—since baseball is played in the spring, McGowin will take classes only during fall semesters.
On Friday night, McGowin was joined by many more family and friends at La Superica in Sag Harbor, where he was able to finally reflect on his recent success.
“It was pretty good,” he said. “A lot of close friends came down, and we celebrated, pretty much.”