By Pete Smith
Carmel residents Marty and Megan Gregor don’t often get the chance to make the trip to Davenport, Iowa, to see their son Conrad Gregor play for the Class A River Bandits. Conrad Gregor has siblings that still attend Carmel High School and Marty Gregor spends much of his time working as a financial advisor at Merrill Lynch.
But the couple were able to make the long drive over the Memorial Day weekend and they got some seats behind the plate for the May 24 game. It was just the second game they had seen in Davenport.
During the game, Marty Gregor decided to move to the right field wall that rests right against the Mississippi River.
“It’s just a great place to watch the game,” he said.
It was also an incredibly lucky place to watch from – so much so that even baseball’s statisticians haven’t yet calculated the odds of what happened next. With a swift crack of the bat, Conrad Gregor sent his first homerun of the season soaring into the right field stands, and his father made a spectacular behind-the-back bare-handed catch.
“Even if it had broken all of my fingers, I wouldn’t have felt it,” Marty Gregor said. “I was so excited.”
The video of the amazing father-son act quickly went viral online, spreading throughout social networks like Facebook and earning the father and son plenty of television face time on networks like ESPN and CNN.
Marty Gregor said the exposure has been great fun. But it has also been redeeming in a way.
You see, Marty Gregor played baseball as a kid, too. But football appeared to be the sport he was best suited for. Unfortunately, he wasn’t allowed to hone his over-the-shoulder catching technique on the gridiron as a wide receiver. Coaches told him he needed to play on the defensive side of the ball.
“I was accused of having stone hands,” he said.
And while nothing can undo the past, he wouldn’t trade anything for the present.
“You happen to be in the right place at the right time. To watch your son live their dream is one of the coolest things any parent can do,” Marty Gregor said.
And Conrad Gregor has enjoyed riding the wave of viral video fame as well, and not just for the TV interviews.
He said it’s been great to reconnect with friends and former teammates that he had lost contact with during the years. Now they’ve all reached out to him to congratulate him.
Conrad Gregor said he’s immensely grateful for the helping hand that the Carmel community gave him – from his start playing with the Carmel Dad’s Club, through lettering for four years on the high school team to eventually earning a baseball scholarship to attend Vanderbilt University.
After getting drafted following his junior season at Vanderbilt, he decided he couldn’t put off pursuing a Major League Baseball career any longer, although he still plans to finish his degree during the next two fall semesters.
“I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else,” Conrad Gregor said.
He’s currently batting .307 with a homer and 27 RBIs in 42 games in his first full season in the minor leagues.
And as for the ball? His father said he still has it, but he forgot to get it autographed.
“I just hope he isn’t going to charge me for it,” Marty Gregor said.