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It was late August, 2005, when Noah Lowry found home. Lowry, a Giants pitcher, was standing on the mound at AT&T Park. The game was about to start. Lowry looked to the stands and saw them full. He looked to the dugout and saw his teammates. Lowry would be named National League Pitcher of the Month with a 5-0 record and a 0.69 earned run average. In that nanosecond before he threw the game's first pitch, the significance hit him.

"This is where I belong," Lowry said to himself.

This was where his boyhood dream came to rest. In reality. In the big leagues. This was where he belonged, when his hard work and skill reached maturity at the same time. Lowry was 24, strong, motivated. His future was golden, prospects seemingly limitless. Lowry was going to be an anchor on the Giants' staff for years to come; no question about it. Today, nearly eight years later, when asked what he remembers most fondly about his big league career, Lowry singled out August of 2005, above all other moments.

"I was going to pitch until I was 40," Lowry remembered.

He is 32.

He is co-owner of Santa Rosa Ski & Sports, an outdoor store.

He hasn't pitched in the big leagues in almost six years.

He can't lift his two young daughters above his shoulders without pain.

Lowry can tell you that life happens while you are making other plans. In his case life meant four surgeries in three years, four surgeries that involved his elbow, shoulder, neck and ribs, four surgeries that were met with the same hope. This one would put Lowry back in the big leagues. Never did. However, it never made him resentful that his body gave up on him like a tire that suddenly went flat.

"There's nothing to be bitter about in my life," Lowry said. "If I said I was bitter it would be an insult to what I have been given."

And that would be this woman he met at a bar in 2006.

Lowry had just pitched against the Washington Nationals and was tagged pretty hard. Usually he would go out with teammates after the game to sort things out. But this night Lowry wanted to spend it alone, to figure out what went wrong. Lowry headed down to the Embarcadero in San Francisco to have dinner at Houston's, an eatery. He went up to the bar to order a beer. To his left, as he waited for his beer, two young women were sitting, having a drink.

As a communications major at Pepperdine University, Lowry began to engage them in some communications.

The conversation started as the usual polite, politically correct chit-chat. It morphed into the three of them sitting down for dinner. Lowry found the two women, best of friends, were about to fly to San Diego for the weekend. Well, wouldn't you know it, the Giants were headed down to San Diego for a series with the Padres.

"I have a house in San Diego I stay at and so I told them they could stay in my hotel room and have free lodging," Lowry said. "No strings attached. I didn't want it to be weird like that. We did meet once for lunch. And I said maybe we could get back together when the Giants got back home."

Lowry found himself gravitating to one of the women, Andrea Montoya. Andrea was a Rancho Cotate graduate, lived in Sonoma County and loved the area. Well, what do you know? Lowry was familiar with Sonoma County. When the Giants had off days at home, Lowry and a couple of teammates drove north like a bunch of tourists. Lowry loved the outdoors and Sonoma County had a lot of that, too.

So it wasn't a big stretch, in fact it was no stretch at all, that when Noah and Andrea decided to get married four years ago, Sonoma County would be their place of residence. They have two daughters.

Like on that day in August of 2005, Lowry found home again.

"I am so thankful for everything that's happened to me," Lowry said.

Odd, one may think for him to say that, after the injuries that cut short such a promising career. But Lowry was never confused about whether life was fair or not. Sometimes it isn't. Sometimes it takes time to accept the unfairness, like the three years it took Lowry to finally get over not being able to pitch again.

"I'm throwing underhanded now, soft-tossing to my girls," joked Lowry, using a baseball phrase. "And I can still pick them up."

But doesn't that hurt?

"It does," Lowry said, "but the juice is worth the squeeze."

The affection trumps the pain. Risk-reward is everywhere for Lowry. He has been a private investor, part owner of a health club and a movie theater, contributor to a startup company, a player of the stock market. Some of his business ventures have worked out. Some haven't.

"I always thought baseball was going to be part of my life," Lowry said, "but it wasn't going to be my whole life."

He will get involved in clean energy and organic food. He is helping out the Cardinal Newman baseball team. He wants his outdoor store to take off. Through church groups, Lowry has worked in impoverished countries; he will do more of that.

"I'm not good at sitting still," said Lowry, who finished his career with a 40-31 record and a 4.03 ERA.

Lowry is not good at sitting on self-pity. So when he thinks of the Giants, and he does often, Lowry doesn't grimace. He smiles. "A big part of me is still in the game with them," he said.

So when they won the World Series twice in the past three years, how much did Lowry feel a part of that? After all, he would be in his ninth year with the Giants, just passing through the prime of his life at 32, on his way to becoming a senior statesman.

"They are right here," said Lowry, pointing to his heart.

The boy may have left the game, but the game has not left the boy. He will always have August of 2005. To remind him of when it was perfect. While his left arm reminds him daily of when it was not. The contradiction doesn't bother him. It matures him. Make your own luck, even when you don't feel lucky.

You can reach Staff Columnist Bob Padecky at 521-5223 or bob.padecky@pressdemocrat.com.

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