Steven Matz had so many supporters venture to Citi Field for his major-league debut that his mother, Lori, wondered why she even bothered to bring her cellphone. "Who am I going to text?'' she said. "Everyone I know is here."
About 150 family members and friends -- most of whom were clad in blue Mets T-shirts that had Matz's last name and number "32" on the back, and some who wore green T-shirts with Matz's high school, Ward Melville, stenciled across the front -- packed into Suite 221.
No one was more excited than Matz's father, Ron, who said he felt like "a kid on Christmas morning." Watching his son perform in the Mets' 7-2 win over the Reds was like unwrapping a Nintendo 64 in the '90s.
The consensus in the suite was simple: Let's just get out of the first inning. Matz, 24, allowed a leadoff home run by Brandon Phillips on his fifth major-league pitch, but as he settled in, so did his supporters.
"That first inning? Oh, man. It was really nerve-wracking," said Matz's sister, Jillian, 19. "But as the game goes on and he's killing it, the nerves were completely gone."
Matz settled in so comfortably on the mound, in fact, that Jillian forgot it was a major-league baseball game she was watching. "It actually felt like a regular baseball game, kind of," she said. "I kind of forgot about everything."
But every time Matz came to the plate, the realization of the extraordinary circumstances came back in a jolt.
Before the game, all the hype was about Matz's golden left arm. But Lou Petrucci, Matz's high school baseball coach at Ward Melville, wanted to talk about his hitting ability with anyone who would listen.
Matz backed him up in the second inning. And the fifth. And the sixth. He wound up 3-for-3 with four RBIs.
"What did I tell you!" Petrucci said after Matz's long two-run double in the second. "Forget pitching! We just came to see him hit!"
Even before he reached first base on his two-run single in the sixth, Suite 221 was in pandemonium. "Are you kidding me?" Ron Matz shouted before turning to Petrucci. "It's Ward Melville all over again!"
All the while, Matz's grandfather, Bert Moller, continued to flash back.
"I think back to when he was 10, 12 years old," Moller said. "Going to his games and seeing him progress over all these years . . . It's just been amazing. And today, this is the icing on the cake."
Matz allowed two earned runs, five hits and three walks in 72/3 innings, striking out six.
"I watch all of his games on the Internet. So in a way, it feels no different," said Matz's brother, Jonathon, 27. "But at the same time, you look around, and it's Citi Field. To watch him do it here . . . It's surreal."
An emotional Lori Matz echoed that point.
"To be here in Citi Field with him in a Mets uniform," she said, "I mean this was my family's favorite team growing up. I have no words."
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