Oh, brother: Schierholtz puts one in stratosphere for Air Force cadet

Tuesday, April 19

DENVER — As a cadet at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Vai Schierholtz knows all about flying objects. He had a surprisingly and thrillingly close encounter with one at Coors Field on Monday night.

As luck would have it, Vai was sitting in the right-field upper deck, intently watching his older brother, Nate, play for the Giants against the Colorado Rockies. Three of Vai’s friends from the Academy accompanied him.

Imagine Vai’s excitement as Nate launched a first-inning home run.

Imagine Vai’s incredulity as Nate’s drive landed about 10 feet from him.

Predictably, Nate knew nothing about what had happened when he took his position in right field. He would have left tickets for Vai and his buddies, but they bought their own seats before Nate could act.

“I ran out for the next inning and looked up and saw the four of them screaming,” Schierholtz said after the Giants’ series-opening 8-1 victory.

Nate learned of the happy coincidence in a brief postgame chat with his brother. Vai and his pals approached the man who snagged the ball and obtained it for a mere $25 and the promise of some signed memorabilia from Nate.

Contributing to this key triumph over Colorado was satisfying enough for Schierholtz, who went 3-for-4 with two RBIs. Excelling in front of Vai, a shortstop for the Academy’s baseball team, doubled his pleasure.

“We’re like best friends. We’re really close,” Nate said. “Any time I get to see him, I get really excited for it. So it was kind of a treat tonight to put on a little bit of a display for him.”

Schierholtz said that Vai, a senior, will soon graduate from the Academy to manage part of a defense meteorological satellite program. If Vai ever needs assistance while sending objects into orbit, maybe he can call upon his big brother, whose homer traveled an estimated 467 feet and was
only the 31st batted ball to reach Coors Field’s upper deck.

— Chris Haft

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