This article originally appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle on September 8, 2013.
Beer and baseball – American pastimes, and for one Santa Clara couple, the beginning of a love story.
Drew Ehrlich, 31, is a former pitcher for the Stanford baseball team who now co-owns San Jose’s Strike Brewing Co. Katie McGlennon, 29, is a lifelong San Francisco Giants fan and a self-proclaimed “Bud Light girl.”
Both were single in the spring of 2011 when mutual friends decided to kill time on a road trip with a little matchmaking. Ehrlich and McGlennon received text messages from Ehrlich’s future business partner, Jenny Lewis, saying, “I have someone to set you up with.”
Both were reluctant and said no at least once, Ehrlich because he felt “fine being single,” and McGlennon because the description of Ehrlich she received said he worked for Maxim. Not wanting to associate with someone who worked at the men’s magazine, she balked, but she reconsidered when she learned that Ehrlich actually worked at Maxim Integrated, a San Jose technology company.
And Ehrlich relented when his best friend – Lewis’ husband – promised that if he went on the double date, he’d “get a beer out of it.” He agreed to a day of bar-hopping in San Francisco.
He got more than a beer. By the second brewery, Ehrlich said he knew that McGlennon was “something special.” It took her longer to fall for him – until the fourth bar.
“He was tall and had a good laugh and good sarcasm – like me,” she said. “He carried on a conversation well.”
Lewis and Ehrlich briefly interrupted the date with a “business meeting” to discuss the logo of the brewing company they were starting. Both home brewers and former college athletes, they often lamented that there weren’t many craft beers with the low alcohol content that fitness enthusiasts want. The idea for Strike Brewing Co. was born, with Ehrlich as the brewmaster.
This conversation, McGlennon said, was one of the first things that attracted her to Ehrlich. “I knew he had ambition.”
At the end of the day, the pair exchanged phone numbers, and Ehrlich couldn’t wait to call her. They met for dinner three nights later in Foster City, which was the halfway point between his home in Sunnyvale and hers in San Francisco.
In the coming months, McGlennon relocated to the South Bay for work, and she was able to see more of Ehrlich. She planned a trip to Phoenix so they could see the Giants in spring training. It was a tradition for McGlennon’s family, but Ehrlich had never been to spring training as a spectator. He went once as a player for the Boston Red Sox minor league team before an arm injury ended his career.
The couple dated for 17 months but lived apart – McGlennon’s family frowned on living together before marriage. Instead of being there to wish her good morning each day, Ehrlich sent McGlennon links to songs that reminded him of her. He also wrote her poetry. But his biggest gesture – the marriage proposal in August 2012 – didn’t start out as very romantic.
“We went to see the ‘Batman’ movie that morning,” McGlennon recalled.
“I needed something to keep me calm,” Ehrlich said, noting that the ring, which he had a jeweler create based on photos of rings McGlennon liked, was in his cargo-shorts pocket.
They then hiked the PG&E Trail near Los Altos, and when Ehrlich paused and grabbed her hand, McGlennon assumed it was for a water break. Then she saw him drop to one knee and begin “stuttering and stammering.” That’s when she realized what was happening. And the ring, she said, was “perfect.”
The couple wed at the Church of the Nativity in Menlo Park in June. After the ceremony, they took photos at Stanford’s Sunken Diamond, the field where Ehrlich had spent so many hours of his college career. There, he stood on the mound and pitched to his bride – not a baseball but her wedding bouquet. They also found a baseball in the grass and picked it up as a wedding-day souvenir. Unbeknownst to the couple, the best man pocketed the ball and had the wedding party sign it during the reception.
At the reception, they served two kinds of Strike beer and gave bottles of their Imperial Red Ale – temporarily renamed I Do Brew- as favors. McGlennon says she’s a Bud Light girl no more.
Their first-dance song, Kenny Chesney’s “Me and You,” was one of the songs Ehrlich sent to McGlennon during their morning ritual. And before the couple left for their honeymoon in Italy, Ehrlich’s best man presented them with one more gift: the signed baseball.
“Now it’s on our mantel,” Ehrlich said.