James Barron: Farris has 'one of those baseball days' in surprise return as player

Jun. 19—Ian Farris never could have predicted what Saturday night would be like for him.

Farris had not played a single inning in nine years when the 31-year-old Santa Fe High head baseball coach got a chance to turn back the clock for one night playing for the Pecos League's Austin Weirdos in his own backyard against the Santa Fe Fuego at Fort Marcy Ballpark.

"It was super fun, and I'll never forget it," Farris said.

Well, it's hard to forget going 4-for-4 with a double and two RBIs in a historic 41-12 loss to the Fuego, as the home team set a club record for most runs in a game. As perfect a night Farris had at the plate, it was hardly that when he took the hill for his first start since he was with the Demons from 2005-09.

Farris wrote on his Facebook page about his performance "#justdontcheckmypitchingstats." Alas, here are the not-so-pretty numbers: 2 1/3 innings, 21 allowed runs (18 earned), 18 hits and four walks.

Still, Farris was proud of the three strikeouts he accrued, and even more impressed by what the radar gun told him.

"I topped out at 81 miles an hour," Farris said. "I was pretty impressed. I was like, 'Wow, 81.' When I talked to the guy [operating the radar gun], I was like, 'Oh, tell me I hit, like, 75.' He's like, 'No, dude, you're at 81.'"

All it took for Farris to find out how hard he could still throw was a Thursday phone call from Santa Fe Fuego manager Tom Fitzgerald. The visiting Austin Weirdos needed players to fill out its roster for the four-game series at Fort Marcy Ballpark, and Fitzgerald asked Farris if he knew guys who might be interested, including him.

Farris couldn't play Thursday or Friday, as his duties at his E&G Baseball Academy and coaching a U-8 club team interfered with that chance. But he got several former Demons willing to help out — recent graduates Antonio Martinez and Adan Alvarez answered the call. So, too, did Farris' former teammate and former Fuego Jerome Romero and 2022 Santa Fe Indian School graduate Kyle Suina.

Even Farris' former teammate at Savannah State, George Dellos, flew in from Texas for a game. But Farris was ready, willing and able Saturday.

"I said, 'If you guys need me, I'll play,'" Farris said.

He showed up about two hours before the game. An hour into his pre-game routine, Farris received an offer he least expected — would he be the starting pitcher for the game? He hadn't pitched since high school, but he threw plenty of batting practice over the past nine years.

"I throw so much batting practice that I'm in shape and my arm is ready," Farris said.

The first inning was encouraging, as he only allowed two runs. Then, Farris roped a double off the left-center field fence. Not too bad for a guy who hit .222 at Division I Savannah State.

The reality check, though, came over the next 1 1/3 innings. First, the Fuego scored nine runs for an 11-0 lead through two. Then came the third inning, and Santa Fe pounded Farris plus relievers Yamil Matos and Martinez for 17 runs and a 28-0 lead.

Farris, though, said that inning was a testament to the hitters in the Pecos League.

"The Pecos League has hitters," Farris said. "They have legit guys who can swing the bat."

Farris showed he can rake with the best of them, though. He had three singles, including what he called a ground ball single that earned the "Fort Marcy Hop" and sailed over the third baseman's head.

It was a busy night for a guy who hadn't played since Savannah State lost in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament in 2014. Father's Day was a day of rest for Farris — much needed, at that.

"I was just so sore, hurting," Farris said. "I was like, 'Well, yeah. I'm about to turn 32 and I haven't played competitive baseball in nine years.' That makes sense, you know?

But man, it was so much fun, though. It was definitely one of the highlights I've had in a long time."

Farris so impressed the Weirdos, they asked him to go on the road with them. Farris declined, knowing the money wasn't worth it — not even to make a trip to Trinidad. That's as close as the team gets to Santa Fe for the rest of the season.

But if Austin is in the same pickle next year?

"They have my number," Farris said.

If that's the case, who knows what a Saturday night next year could hold?