Kyle Harrison’s SF Giants home debut is a Bay Area reunion and celebration

Kyle Harrison’s SF Giants home debut is a Bay Area reunion and celebration

SAN FRANCISCO — Kyle Harrison’s family munched on a spread of snacks in the few minutes before the rookie’s home debut. Just minutes away from the rookie’s home debut, it was one way to distract from the nerves.

But what calmed the butterflies among those gathered in the Harrison Family suite atop Oracle Park was knowing Kyle, the man of the night, was most likely the calmest guy in the ballpark for his home debut on Monday night.

“I think Kyle’s relaxed, now that he’s home,” his dad, Chris Harrison, said. “This is home home.”

On some level, those closest to Harrison knew what was coming: He cruised through five consecutive strikeouts to start the game and finished with 11 strikeouts to complete a scoreless outing over 6 1/3 innings and a win that stunned a Giants crowd thirsting for someone to get excited over.

He’s the Giants’ best pitching prospect since Madison Bumgarner and, fittingly, put up young Bumgarner numbers. But anyone who has watched Harrison pitch between Little League in Danville and De La Salle High School, and that performance was quintessential Kyle.

“He just has feel for the game,” David Jeans, the De La Salle high school baseball coach said. “It’s something that I didn’t give him. He just had it.”

Maybe Harrison felt the magic of his home guide him. When the games weren’t on TV, the Danville native would often trek over the bridge to the ballpark with his parents or grandmother, or his younger brother and two cousins to catch the San Francisco Giants in their World Series heyday.

Other than that, Harrison’s own baseball dreams happened all in his own backyard. Save for a little travel ball, he went from local Little League to high school right to the 2021 MLB Draft. And he turned down a different team’s offer with an opportunity to sign with his hometown squad.

“When things line up like that it feels like destiny,” his dad said.

The hometown kid warmed up to local artist P-Lo’s “Put Me on Somethin,’” an homage to the Bay Area, and drowned out the noise around him as he dug into a Cincinnati Reds team also vying for a Wild Card spot. And there was plenty of noise. His parents, grandparents, girlfriend, family friends and high school baseball coaches were perched up in a suite. Katie Grace Carrington, his girlfriend of three years, bawled just a little more after each of Harrison’s strikeouts.

“I know that every other girl in my situation would feel that,” she said. “You’re watching the love of your life do exactly what they’re meant to do.”

Hundreds of De La Salle students, faculty and parents — former and current — crowded the sections below. School organizers and parents made sure to get the word out that one of their own would be pitching a few miles away. At De La Salle, everyone knows Kyle. His friends waved cardboard cutouts of Harrison’s face after each out and their parents who celebrated a day they saw coming.

Kim Amigh cheered from her seat in Sec. 122 with a huge De La Salle cohort; her son, Jared, caught Harrison throughout their high school careers, including through one of the school’s four-straight NCS championships.

“We’re not surprised, because we knew he’d get here,” Amigh said. “This is Kyle Harrison. You’ll never see him get flustered ever.”

Harrison was fearless, daring Reds hitters to swing at his mid-90s fastball that pounded the zone with stifling jump along with a hard slider. And he didn’t waver when he struck out a batter for his 10th K to escape his only jam in the sixth inning.

Clayton Tanner, a 2006 Giants’ draftee out of De La Salle, saw that maturity blossom early on as Harrison’s high school pitching coach.

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“A lot of guys can pitch. It was his stuff and his maturity,” he said. “He leads by example, he wasn’t worried about being that guy.”

Added Jeans: “I would never have to tell him twice how to do things. He would pick it up and adjust his body. He knew what I was thinking.”

Once Harrison was pulled in the seventh, Chris and his mom, Kim Harrison, returned to the suite to pop a bottle of champagne and relive what they’d just watched. After the Giants’ 4-1 win, dozens wandered onto the dark field to revel and exchange mementos.

Giants team still looking for its identity may have found one of their main characters. Ask the hundreds that came to support him on Monday, Harrison was born for the job.