PETIT DE GRAT: David Paupin is well known for throwing some smoke while wearing a Red Caps jersey but, during a recent trip south of the boarder, the Petit de Grat ace showed what he can do on an MLB field.
“It’s still hard to wrap my head around it,” David Paupin told The Reporter on Wednesday of last week, just a few days after returning from Scott Green’s Play at the Plate. “It left me speechless.”
The event was a tournament allowing non-professional ball players to get a taste of Major League experience. Paupin was playing at the Globe Life Park, home of the Texas Rangers.
Green hosts a number of tournaments like this one, but the Texas installment was a little more special, as Globe Life Park will soon see the departure of its flagship team. The Rangers are moving to an adjacent stadium and, after the guys are gone, Globe Life Park will be revamped to accommodate XFL football action.
The significance of the timing isn’t lost on Paupin.
“We were one of the last teams to play there,” he said. “The only teams left to play after us were the Yankees and Red Sox, and knowing you were one of the final people to play on that field made it even more special.
“I met a lot of Rangers staff who were still there. I got to know a bunch of those guys and see the community. We got to see the new ball park. The old stadium is still perfectly good, but there’ll be a dome on the new one with air conditioning, and no one wants to go sit somewhere where it’s too hot.”
Paupin is a member of this year’s Richmond Amateur Baseball Association league champion Petit de Grat Red Caps, and his contributions to the team have been well known over the years. In addition to his contributions, most local ball fans generally aware of an accident that took place on the field that changed Paupin’s life.
While fielding a well-hit ball, Paupin collided with the far wall surrounding the Petit de Grat field. His knee was badly injured; so much so, in fact, that his doctor told him playing sports was no longer possible.
“As crappy as the situation was, it’s made me who I am today,” he said. “I don’t take anything for granted. When I have these opportunities, I still try my best to make it happen because you never know how long you can do things.
“With the way my knee is, there will be a day when I can’t play anymore. I might as well do it while I can.
“My doctor can’t believe I’m doing all the things I’m doing,” he said. “I tell people you only live once, and you never know when something is going to happen, so you might as well live your life to the fullest.”
After being told he’d never play sports again, being able to play ball on actual MLB field was something he described as surreal. Indeed, when trying to concentrate on throwing K’s, Paupin said he tried to focus by not thinking about where he was.
“I tried not to think about it,” he said. “I tried to think I was still on the field in Petit de Grat. I didn’t want to get too nervous, so I just pretended I was down here.”
Paupin said he packed a whole lot of ball into the trip, not to mention site-seeing and touching base with MLB legends like Mickey Rivers and Charlie Hayes. In terms of on-field highlights, the pitcher said there was one instance during his first game that left his head spinning.
“I got to come in and pitch the last inning,” he said. “One of the head guys for the Rangers was behind the plate, and I was warming up. He took out his phone and started videotaping me.
“Once I was done warming up, he phoned somebody and he kept filming me,” Paupin said with a laugh.
“I don’t have a clue what that was about.”
Paupin returned home on Sunday, September 22, and he’s looking forward to this November when he’ll attend the Jay’s Fantasy Camp.