'Speechless': Max Kranick Had the Whole Valley Behind Him on Sunday

It's about more than baseball when you're from where Max Kranick is from.
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PITTSBURGH -- I'm not writing this from a press box in St. Louis or a newsroom in Pittsburgh. I'm on my couch with a bag of pretzels, just turning off the Pirates vs. Cardinals game.

Why? Because this story isn't from a Pirates beat writer. It's from a Jessup native, who, like anyone else from the suburbs of Scranton, Pennsylvania, spent Sunday afternoon watching a baseball game that meant more to us than probably any other.

On June 27, Max Kranick became the first pitcher in the MLB since 1901 to have a perfect game through at least two innings in his professional debut. He pitched five and led the Pirates to a 7-2 win over the Cardinals.

For those who don't know, Kranick is from a small town in Northeast Pennsylvania where everyone knows everyone, and when something as important as Sunday happens, everyone tunes in.

How do I know? Because you can walk from my parents' house to Kranick's parents' house without breaking a sweat. We graduated high school two years apart, and like I said, in Jessup, everyone knows everyone.

I called Kranick's brother, Connor, after the game. He used the word speechless five times in the conversation. Once a minute. Honestly, I don't know if I could've expected anything different.

"Words can't even describe it. It was absolutely incredible," Connor said. "It's something he's worked for his entire life. I saw the process day-in and day-out and what goes into being a professional baseball player and trying to make it in your sport. Seeing this, being here, and having our really close family and friends here, it's - speechless. It's incredible. Absolutely incredible."

For those who didn't watch, Kranick's family was shown multiple times throughout the game. The broadcast team continued to talk about him being from Scranton and how many family members and friends were in attendance.

Connor, along with the rest of the family, had some extra in their celebrations. For those watching from NEPA, there couldn't be enough Kranick family coverage.

"Without some of those people, I'm not in this situation, so it really means the world that they made the trip out here," Kranick told reporters after the game. "It's an unbelievable day."

Kranick learned of his first Major League start just days before Sunday. He made the trip from Indianapolis to Pittsburgh, got on a plane to St. Louis and before anyone could even grasp that a Valley View graduate was starting his first professional baseball game, No. 45 took the mound.

"Pride. Pride, pride, pride," Connor described watching his brother. "So happy that he achieved his dream."

"We were playing wiffleball in our backyard as kids," he continued. "The pandemic hitting and he's working on his craft in the backyard, and the next thing you know, a little over a year later, here he is pitching in Busch Stadium. You talk about 'what are we going to do? How are we going to react?' You truly don't get that until you come into the stadium and you see him out there warming up for the first time. That's when it hits you."

It was a great day for any Pirates fan - a better day for the Kranick family.

People achieve their dreams constantly - even people from the small suburbs of Scranton. But rarely does someone achieve their dreams on national television, where literally everyone can watch and cheer.

And trust me, we all did. If only I could post my timeline, snapchat stories and group texts. 

"It shows that a kid from Jessup, Archbald, Peckville, that if they work hard, stay focused and dedicated to their craft, they could make it to the major leagues or the NBA, or anything like that," Connor said. "It shows, 'if he can make it, why can't I make it?'"

The texts amongst friends, conversations with family and Facebook posts won't stop anytime soon. To anyone from 'The Valley,' Kranick just put us on the map. And as much as we want to gloat and brag about the local kid who made it big, there's an overwhelming sense of pride - of happiness for him and his family.

"Speechless," Connor best described it. "It was absolutely incredible."

It's been a wait for Max Kranick to be the hometown hero. Something everyone knew was coming. That wait was well worth it. 

Noah Strackbein is a Publisher with AllSteelers. Follow Noah on Twitter @NoahStrack, and AllSteelers @si_steelers.

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