Matt Armstrong remembers tears have been streaming down his cheeks.
His son, Chicago Cubs outfielder Pete Crow-Armstrong, had arrived within the majors.
“I remember I just sobbed when Pete made that first catch,” Armstrong stated.
Crow-Armstrong’s first play in an MLB outfield got here throughout the Cubs’ 5-4 win in opposition to the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field in Denver on Sept. 11. He was carrying the Cubs’ grey street uniform, full with the identical blue ballcap his father grew up revering in Naperville.
“I was sitting next to my wife (Ashley Crow),” Armstrong stated. “My best friend was on my right, and I was sitting there with all the ghosts — my grandparents, my dad, my sister, all these people — and it was pretty overwhelming. It was quite a moment.”
Armstrong, 50, teaches English and theater at Sierra Canyon School in Los Angeles. But Naperville was his dwelling for almost 25 years, till he and Crow moved to LA to pursue performing simply earlier than the flip of the millennium.
Long earlier than Crow-Armstrong’s MLB debut, Armstrong was identified round Naperville as one of the best defensive participant in DuPage Valley Conference soccer. As an inside linebacker, Armstrong was named the convention’s defensive participant of the 12 months twice for perennial playoff groups at Naperville Central.
“I didn’t have any clue I was even that good until after my junior year and I started getting some accolades,” Armstrong stated.
Armstrong’s begin in soccer would possibly sound acquainted to some student-athletes in Naperville.
“My buddies from across the street played football,” he stated. “They were like, ‘Why aren’t you playing?’ My dad was actually against it, but my mom actually intervened and changed his mind somehow. So I started playing in second grade.”
One of these pals was Mike Stock, who’s Naperville Central’s baseball coach and a dean of scholars. Stock, who graduated from Naperville Central in 1990, was a 12 months forward of Armstrong, who graduated in 1991.
“Our families were across the street from each other,” Stock stated. “Matt and I played everything together.”
Armstrong moved via the youth soccer ranks and was enjoying in highschool by 1987. He debuted on Naperville Central’s varsity staff as a sophomore, enjoying fullback.
“The first varsity practice sucked,” he stated. “We had simply misplaced a recreation, so nobody was glad. We went into the health club to do conditioning. They proceeded to kick the dwelling you-know-what out of us. I keep in mind considering, ‘Am I actually doing this?’
Armstrong determined that, sure, he was doing this. He captained the Redhawks’ protection as a linebacker in his junior and senior seasons.
Stock was Naperville Central’s quarterback.
“Matt was fearless as a football player,” Stock stated. “He’s also just a really passionate person. He’s all-in on everything he does. He was the personality of that whole team.”
During Armstrong’s junior and senior years, the Redhawks earned playoff berths however misplaced in opening-round street video games in opposition to Conant, falling on a dramatic last-second landing move, and Downers Grove North.
“It was a shocker,” Armstrong stated of the loss to Conant. “We were all just stunned.”
That stinger apart, Armstrong’s Naperville Central profession was a success. But he knew he wouldn’t hold enjoying soccer in faculty. He stated solely a handful of Division II applications reached out.
Around that point, Armstrong’s want to behave bubbled to the floor.
“I started to get obsessed with the idea of doing it,” he stated. “I’ve always had a performative streak, and I always understood that athletics was a performative field, in a way.”
Armstrong acted in a couple of quick performs, bought hooked after which made a life-altering resolution.
“I stated, ‘When I’m performed with soccer, I’m going to go be an actor,’ he stated.
He attended the College of DuPage to review theater and shortly was polished sufficient for skilled levels and an agent.
“At the time, it seemed surprising that he wasn’t going to keep playing football,” Stock stated. “But looking back, Matt is such a focused person that he could lose himself in a character on stage the same way he’d lose himself in a football game.”
While performing, Armstrong met Crow in Chicago in 1998. The couple moved to Los Angeles the next 12 months and have become mother and father to their solely baby, Pete Crow-Armstrong, on March 25, 2002.
Crow-Armstrong developed right into a star in Harvard-Westlake’s powerhouse baseball program. He was named the Los Angeles Times’ participant of the 12 months as a junior, and the New York Mets chosen him with the nineteenth general choose within the 2020 MLB draft after his senior season.
After a 12 months within the minors, Crow-Armstrong was despatched to his father’s childhood staff in a commerce for Javier Báez and Trevor Williams.
“That was a weird day,” Armstrong stated. “Javier Baéz was actually Pete’s favorite player as a kid. It felt weird, honestly. Maybe it’s my Irish blood, but it felt too good.”
But for the once-skeptical Armstrong, his son reaching the majors has was the last word prize.
“Getting to see my kid on Wrigley Field in that uniform, it still doesn’t feel real to me,” Armstrong stated. “It’s a trip.”
Sam Brief is a contract reporter for the Naperville Sun.