Giants rookie Mason Black, a NEPA native, makes MLB debut in Philadelphia against the team he grew up loving

San Francisco Giants pitcher Mason Black

San Francisco Giants' Mason Black pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Monday, May 6, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

By Associated Press

May 7, 2024

More than five dozen family members and friends made the trek down the Northeast Extension to watch Archibald native Mason Black make his major league debut Monday for the Giants in Philadelphia.

PHILADELPHIA — Mason Black and his younger brother woke up the morning of Oct. 7, 2011 and were surprised to find Phillies tickets for a playoff game that night resting on a dresser.

Their dad had said he wanted to take his sons — Mason Black was not only a die-hard Phillies fan, but his favorite pitcher, Roy Halladay, got the ball that night in Game 5 of the NL Division Series.

“They found them and came running downstairs and were like, ‘What are these?'” the boys’ father, George Black, said.

“I said, ‘We’re going tonight!’ They almost came out of their shoes.”

Thirteen years later, George Black and his sons were back at Citizens Bank Park and Mason was very much in his shoes — more like his cleats, as the right-handed starting pitcher made his major league debut for the San Francisco Giants against the Phillies.

“I tried not to look up too much,” Black said. “Just kind of keep the focus on the plate and where I was.”

The Giants rookie had parents George and Tara, younger brother Dixon, and more than five dozen other relatives and friends rooting him on Monday. The Blacks sat in section 126, pretty much right behind the plate — a few sections to the left of their seats seven rows off the field behind first base the night the Phillies lost 1-0 to the Cardinals in the playoffs.

Mason Black received a standing ovation from several sections of the ballpark after he was lifted with one out in the fifth and the Giants trailing 5-0. His line: eight hits, five runs, three walks and four strikeouts in a 6-1 loss to the Phillies.

“It means a lot, being close to home,” said Black, who talked to more than a dozen media members outside the clubhouse. “I felt that. Being (a travel day), I wasn’t able to see every single person out there. But it was incredible.”

Giants manager Bob Melvin said Black pitched well enough to earn another start.

Mason Black was raised in Archibald and attended Valley View High School in the same town located about 20 miles northeast of Scranton and 140 miles from Citizens Bank Park. The 24-year-old Black — named the seventh-best prospect in baseball, per MLB.com — was the Giants’ third-round pick in the 2021 draft out of Lehigh University.

Much like George Black surprised his sons with tickets in 2011, Mason had a surprise for his parents when he texted on the family chain Saturday he was getting called up from Triple-A Sacramento (where he went 2-1 with a 1.01 ERA and 29 strikeouts).

George is usually the first to respond to family texts but he let them go unread because he was driving. Mason decided to just call his dad — who also played college baseball at St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens, Florida.

Mason told his dad he was packing: “I’m going to Philly.”

“I’m like, what? Let me pull over,” George Black laughed from his seat in row 31.

Scores of fans cheered from section 126 all the way to the cheap seats in section 426 when Black took the ball in the first inning.

How’s this for a debut? Black recorded a 1-2-3 first inning that included strikeouts of J.T. Realmuto and Bryce Harper, the latter caught looking at an 88 mph changeup.

“I know the high level of player Bryce Harper is, so to have that in your resume, regardless of what happens, it’s a success,” George said.

Dad spoke, of course, before Harper launched a three-run homer off his kid in the fifth for a 4-0 Phillies lead.

The reality was, win or lose, nothing was going to spoil the day for the family.

“Success to me, yes, it’s wins, losses, strikeouts, but success to me was the minute he stepped on that pitcher’s mound,” the 61-year-old father said. “That was as successful as a moment I could ask for as a dad. It’s a proud moment for my wife and I.”

Mason, called up when the Giants put Blake Snell on the 15-day injured list with a left adductor strain, grew up rooting for players like Halladay and Pat Burrell. Burrell is now the Giants’ hitting coach.

Unlike his son, George Black was raised a Pittsburgh Pirates fan.

“Until my son got drafted, Roberto Clemente was my favorite player,” he said. “Now, my favorite player is Mason.”

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