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Couple provides summer home for Florence Freedom pitcher making a comeback after surgery

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

Seth Harvey’s baseball career took an unexpected turn in the summer of 2013 when he had the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow replaced in what’s become known in sports circles as Tommy John Surgery.

The 27-year-old relief pitcher got a chance to make a comeback this season when he signed with the Florence Freedom in April. So he hopped in his car and drove here from Arizona to keep the dream alive. Harvey didn’t know anyone when he got to Northern Kentucky, but living with Scott and Micha Wise, one of the Freedom team’s host families, has made his relocation much more relaxing.

Freedom Family

Florence Freedom relief pitcher Seth Harvey, center, is living with Scott Wise, left, and Micha Wise, right, during the season. (Photo by Terry Boehmker)

“It’s really been a comfort thing, meeting their friends and family, and we’ve all just bonded together.” Harvey said. “In a hectic lifestyle that’s minor league baseball, it’s nice to be comfortable away from the field.”

The Freedom Family Program has been providing a summer residence for out-of-town players for several years. Instead of renting an apartment, a player can stay with a local family for free and feel more at home.

Many of the young men become more than a guest, according to the Freedom website. They actually become part of the family, which is priceless to baseball players who are far from home trying to advance their careers.

That’s exactly what happened after Harvey moved into the Highland Heights home owned by Scott and Micha Wise, a young couple who are also in their late 20s.

“I think we have a lot of things in common,” Harvey said. “When we have an off day (from baseball) we like to do the same things. It’s been a very easy transition. Sometimes, host families are very distant, but I find myself very close with this couple.”

Harvey was a student-athlete at Washington State University when he was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2010. He stayed with other host families during the four years he spent in the Brewers’ farm system. After being named to minor league all-star teams in 2012 ands 2013, he appeared to have a promising future in the Brewers’ organization until the elbow injury that required surgery.

Scott and Micha Wise, who joined the Freedom Family Program this year, didn’t know much about Harvey’s baseball background when the team assigned him to their home this summer. Over the last four months, however, they’ve become his biggest fans.

“We were definitely nervous at first just because it’s somebody you don’t know and you’re bringing him into your home,” Micha said. “But once we met Seth it just kind of clicked between the three of us. He’s super friendly and really easy to get along with. We love him and our family loves him.”

Scott, 26, works in brokerage operations at Fidelity Investments. Micha, 28, is an analyst for Nielsen, a company that tracks consumer trends. They got married in 2013 and moved into their three-bedroom house in Highland Heights last year.

The young couple has attended most of the Freedom home games this summer. The only compensation they get from the team is free tickets. They usually sit behind home plate with other local families who have a player living with them.

Scott went to college on a football scholarship. He knows the physical and mental demands of being on a team that competes at a high level. Supporting his new friend’s comeback as a professional baseball player is important to him.

“I root for all of them to do well,” Scott said of the Freedom players. “It’s a performance-based business, especially pitching. You only get a few games to prove yourself. And if you don’t do it, you’re gone.”

During last week’s home stand, Harvey was called out of the bullpen in two games and retired all nine batters he faced without giving up a hit. But he’s also struggled through some rough outings this summer. On the Fourth of July, he gave up three runs on three hits and was tagged with the loss in a home game against Rapid City.

After that game, however, the young pitcher was able to take his mind off the disappointing performance by joining a party Scott and Micha were having at their house.

“I have had that experience where I’m living by myself and you can get swallowed up by your own thoughts,” Harney said. “Coming home to Scott and Micha, it’s easy to just move on with life. It’s an easier transition from the field back to reality.”

The minor league baseball season is winding down. The Freedom’s final game is on Sept. 6 and Harvey will be moving on after that.

“Time is definitely going by fast,” Micha said. “But I feel like we’ll still keep in touch with him after he’s gone. He’s just like part of the family now.”

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One Comment

  1. TheDawg says:

    They are amazing people! That is one lucky minor leaguer

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