When you’re making as many millions as you are years old, you’re going good.
That’s Ahwatukee’s $24 million man, Scott Kingery, who 12 years ago was a 4-foot-9, 79-pound shortstop on his way to Williamsport, Pennsylvania, to play in the Little League World Series with his fellow Ahwatukee All-Stars.
Today, he’s still playing baseball in Pennsylvania.
Kingery, a Mountain Pointe High and University of Arizona product, returns to the Valley next week with the Philadelphia Phillies, where he has broken into the lineup as a rookie.
It didn’t take Kingery long to make a splash in major league baseball. The 24-year-old signed a six-year, $24 million contract in March. It was the largest guarantee in MLB history to a player who had yet to play a game.
In his eighth game, Kingery, now 5-10, 180, hit his first big-league home run. The very next night, he smashed his first grand slam.
Ahwatukee is ready to welcome home Kingery like a conquering hero for a three-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Games are 6:40 p.m. on Aug. 6 and 7 and a 12:40 p.m. on Aug. 8.
The Diamondbacks helped several Ahwatukee moms of players from Kingery’s Little League team put together a block of tickets. According to Andrew Fadell, senior account executive with the Diamondbacks, more than 100 tickets have been sold.
Among Kingery’s biggest fans is Kathleen Fordyce, whose son, Tucker, was in Mountain Pointe’s Class of 2012 with Scott and his identical twin, Sam, and remains best friends with the brothers. Fordyce recalls much more than baseball with the Kingerys.
She cherishes their support during her battle with ovarian cancer.
“When I was going through chemo, going through everything, Sam and Scott would come and sit with me at night,” Fordyce said. “They knew Tucker didn’t want to go out because he wanted to be with me, and they would come and hang out at my house with me.
“Think about it: Who the hell wants to come and sit with their mother? But these guys were great. They would come over, and we watched movies or Monday Night Football. They would come and hang out at my house and just totally have my back. The joke is as many years as I have known these guys, as many meals as I have cooked for them, it’s still very, very hard for me to determine who’s Scott and who’s Sam. They were at my house constantly. Their friendships are unreal.”
The ticket block quickly was gobbled up by many of the same fans who in 2006 overfilled My Wine Cellar, at that time owned by Fordyce, and Ahwatukee sports bar CK’s Tavern to watch Kingery and teammates play in Williamsport on the team coached by the Kingerys’ dad, Tom. Every local politician who wanted to see and be seen was there.
The response to Scott’s homecoming with the Phillies is reminiscent of the spirit that captured the community during the Ahwatukee All Stars’ run to Williamsport.
“To see Ahwatukee respond to Scott like this just makes me very proud,” Tom Kingery said. “I’m so proud of him and what he’s accomplished. I’ve always just loved this community. Those years in Little League were the best time. We had a group of parents who loved game of baseball and kids who loved to play it.
“For me, it’s going to be very emotional just going to the game. I went to a Diamondbacks game early this season, and I said to a buddy that it’s really going to be something coming back when the Phillies are here, knowing my son is going to be out on that field. It gives you a different view of that stadium.”
As the Phillies’ visit approaches, Tom Kingery said, the phone has been ringing from well-wishers and from those wondering if they could get tickets.
“Scott is getting a suite for a bunch of his friends, high school buddies. There’s been a lot of interest from our close friends. My wife, Patti, is trying to organize it all along with a few other moms,” Kingery said. “There will be a lot of Ahwatukee people in the ticket block, but a lot of people we know have told us they’ve bought tickets all over the stadium, too. I think everybody kind of remembers the Little League thing.
“We’re just trying to help Scott out a little and coordinate it all.”
In half a season, Kingery has shown amazing versatility for a rookie, playing six positions – all three in the outfield and everywhere in the infield except first base. Through Monday, he had four homers, 18 doubles, a triple and eight stolen bases.
The grind of the baseball season might be catching up with him, though. After the fast start in April, Kingery is batting a more rookie-like .237. However, in his past seven games, he has hit a more Kingery-like .357.
After his time with Ahwatukee Little League and Mountain Pointe, Kingery initially did not have a big-school scholarship offer. He was a walk-on at Arizona, where he quickly made his point. By the time he left, he was Pac-12 Player of the Year.
The Phillies drafted him in the second round in 2015.
Kingery continued to overcome the odds during spring training this year. He was a non-roster invitee to the Phillies’ camp after three encouraging years in the minor leagues, where he hit .304, .359 and .530 with 26 homers and 29 stolen bases with the Double-A Reading Fightin Phils and the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs. His play during spring training earned him a Phillies roster spot and eventually a starting job.
“Really, Scott has overcome the odds every step of the way,” Tucker Fordyce said. “A lot of us were down there with him for the whole UofA thing, and that was crazy what he did there. Then when he got drafted we had a big draft party. We saw him in Florida the week before he signed the big contract after he got pulled up to the Big Leagues.
“It’s going to be a hero’s welcome when he comes home, that’s for sure. Nobody’s seen him yet since he made it.”
Kathleen and Tucker Fordyce traveled to Clearwater, Florida, to watch Scott in spring training before it was known he was going to make the team, much less sign the lucrative contract.
“I’m so proud of Scott,” Kathleen Fordyce said. “We still talk all the time. He’s like family. He still jokes around. The greatest thing is he’s still one of the guys. He’s still their buddy. I message him and he messages me back, ‘Hey, Mom Fordyce, how you doing?’ He’s a general all-around great kid.
“We knew he was coming back, and everybody wanted to go watch together, and a group of us said, ‘Let’s do one game sitting in same section.’ I can’t even imagine what it’s going to be like to see the support and enthusiasm from everybody. It’s going to be very, very special.”
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