Updated 05/07/2012 05:34 AM
Even With Sub-Par Performance, Pettitte Wows Rochester Crowd
Thousands of fans turned out at Frontier Field on Sunday to catch of glimpse of one of their favorite baseball superstars: pitcher Andy Pettitte. Pettitte started on the mound for the Empire State Yankees.
Pettitte is on a rehabilitation stint with professional baseball's New York Yankees, as he prepares to return from retirement.
Even though Pettitte's stat-line wasn't very great on Sunday – five strikeouts, but also eight hits and three earned runs – YNN's Geoff Redick reports that the poor showing didn't matter to most fans.
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It was clear the moment he ran on the field, and all of Frontier Field erupted in cheers: the game Sunday was baseball...but the show was Andy Pettitte.
"You don't get many chances to see Andy Pettitte in your backyard here," said Jake Loucks.
Loucks, originally from New Jersey and a lifelong New York Yankees fan, was attending his first baseball game in quite some time.
"When we lived down in New Jersey for about eight years, we'd go see Yankees games at Yankee Stadium every year," Loucks said. "So to see him up here (in Rochester), it's pretty big."
Even Andy Pettitte admitted it wasn't his best game ever; he actually ranked it among his worst. Pettitte threw 95 pitches in five innings of work, including a damaging double to lead-off the game, in an at-bat that took 11 pitches to end.
But even a poor outing couldn't take away from the magic: for the first time anyone could remember, there was an established New York Yankees superstar playing at Frontier Field.
"I've been a Yankees fan all my life," said Joe Orden, "but I don't get the chance to go to New York City very often. So when he comes here, I've got to come out and see him."
Orden told us the only reason he came was to see Pettitte pitch – which was apparently the reason for most of the 13,584 in attendance. A least a quarter of the crowd left once Pettitte left the mound after the fifth inning.
For Pettitte's part: he was surprised the nearly 14,000 fans turned out to watch him throw a baseball again.
"It's very humbling, and I appreciate it," Pettitte said in the post-game news conference. "I hate that I didn't give the fans a little bit better of an outing, you know?"
But on a sunny, blue-sky day...no one in Rochester really seemed to mind.
In the meantime, Outfielder Brett Gardner reports here tonight to test his injured right elbow.
He could play a couple of games with the Empire State Yankees.