Public Media for Central Pennsylvania
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

A California substitute teacher was called up by The Atlanta Braves to face Mets


Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach. Eh, needs revision, thanks to Allan Winans. To his students in Bakersfield, Calif., he's a substitute teacher. But during the summer, Allan Winans is a pitcher for the minor league Gwinnett Stripers. Last week, the Atlanta Braves called him up to the bigs to face the New York Mets. He threw seven innings of shutout ball, nine strikeouts - A-plus performance.

ALLAN WINANS: Yeah. You know, to put it lightly, it was pretty cool. Definitely a good feeling to get called up again, you know, coming off the debut in Milwaukee a few weeks ago, riding that high, which was amazing, obviously. Yeah, getting a chance to do it against the Mets, the team that drafted me, was obviously pretty cool and to be able to execute was pretty satisfying, to say the least.

SIMON: For Allan Winans - certainly not the Mets, who drafted him, but didn't hold on to him. Allan Winans is gracious about the team that let him go.

WINANS: I don't know what went into the decision on not protecting me. I thought I had a pretty good year. I mean, I know I had a pretty good year. But they went a different direction, and I'm really happy that they did, you know. Getting over to the Braves was obviously a perfect setup for where I was at in my career.

SIMON: His seven innings of shutout ball in the major leagues also brought a gratifying response from some students he's taught and teachers for whom he's subbed.

WINANS: Some of them have reached out. Some friends that I know that teach, some teachers that I've subbed for have reached out. The amount of gratitude that I have felt over the last few weeks and some change has been unbelievable. Like, I wish - not everybody can make it to the big leagues, obviously, but I wish everybody can feel that type of gratitude that I felt at some point in their life. It was truly, truly amazing.

SIMON: Allan Winans is a starting pitcher with Gwinnett, but back in Bakersfield, he's brought out of the bullpen, if you please, to fill in wherever he's needed.

WINANS: You need a PE guy, you need a math guy, you need an English guy - a little bit of a jack of all trades, I guess you could say.

SIMON: Allan Winans knows his story has movie written all over it - the sub who threw a shutout. But he thinks most of his teammates have their own stories.

WINANS: I think there's a lot of guys that you could write a movie about. A lot of people are making this into, like, a really, really cool story, which - because it is, right? But I think that everybody making it to the big leagues and the grind that we have to go through, the sacrifices we have to make - for everybody across the board, if you get a chance to make it through that threshold, it's pretty special.

SIMON: And does Allan Winans' star turn mean he won't return to the classroom after the season? Is this goodbye, Mr. Winans, for his students?

WINANS: You know, my wife's a teacher. She just started up yesterday with students. And she asked me that same question. We'll have to see how the rest of the year plays out. I definitely have a big off season ahead - looking into another big year next year, too, but not looking too far ahead at the same time. We have - I have a game this week on Sunday that I'm starting. As of right now, I'm not too sure, but we'll see.

SIMON: But students in Bakersfield - still get your homework in. Mr. Winans can grade those papers while his team is at bat.


MABEL SCOTT: (Singing) If I pitch, can you catch? Will you hold the ball? When you step to the plate, will you swing and fall? If you play, you got to know how it's done. Can you catch? Can you hold a hard one? Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.