West Fargo kid to get near All-Star stage
West Fargo - This week, Major League Baseball’s best players will congregate at Target Field in Minneapolis for the All-Star Game.
West Fargo 14-year-old Andrew Gravdahl will be there too.
Gravdahl will be competing in the MLB’s Pitch, Hit and Run National Finals on Monday afternoon at Target Field. He’s one of 24 finalists that will be competing as well as taking part in an array of MLB All-Star festivities, including shagging fly balls during MLB Home Run Derby on Monday night.
“What I’ve been looking forward to most is the Home Run Derby,” said Gravdahl, who is entering ninth grade this fall. “That’s going to be way more fun than the competition.”
Gravdahl already has a wish list when it comes to catching souvenirs during the Derby.
“I’d like to catch a fly ball from Brian Dozer because he’s from the Twins,” said Gravdahl. “And I’d like to catch one from (Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo) Stanton because he is a beast.”
Gravdahl plays organized baseball in West Fargo during the summer, and this past spring he decided to compete in a local Hit, Pitch and Run competition. After a solid performance, Gravdahl advanced to the state competition, which was held in Drake, N.D., and later qualified for the Regional Finals held at Target Field.
It took a big effort, but in the end Gravdahl said his speed was what put him over the top. Each participant is scored on accuracy with six pitches, distance in three hits of a tee and a times run from second base to home plate.
“I was really surprised,” Gravdahl said of his win earlier this spring. “I was going up against two really good players. They were crushing the ball, so I thought I didn’t have a chance.”
Gravdahl will be competing against two other 14-year olds in his age group.
More than 600,000 boys and girls ages 7-14 from across the country participated this spring for a chance to compete in the National Finals.
“Watching him play with the big boys from the MLB is a once-and-a-lifetime thing,” said Andrew’s father, Dave.
Gravdahl also will be attending the All-Star Game on Tuesday night with his mother, Theresa.
He said he hopes to see Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw pitch in the game and also would like to see Minnesota Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki make a few plays.
When it comes to his competition, Gravdahl said he hopes he starts strong and is within striking distance when the running event starts.
“Pitching is the most important event,” Gravdahl said. “That’s the first event and that really sets up the rest of the competition. That will tell you whether you are going to do well or bad.”
Monday night will be an even bigger stage.
Gravdahl will be sharing the field with the likes of Toronto’s Jose Bautista, Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig and Colorado Rockies sluggers Justin Morneau and Troy Tulowitzki.
“I tried to keep it quiet, because I don’t want a lot of pressure on me,” Gravdahl said. “But eventually my friends will see me on the field during the Home Run Derby.”