It's the 'Feel-Good Moment of the 2023 MLB Season'

Drew Maggi gets standing ovation in MLB debut after 13 seasons in minor league
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 27, 2023 9:15 AM CDT
Updated Apr 30, 2023 11:48 AM CDT

Drew Maggi has played 1,154 games of minor league baseball over a 13-year career, hoping for his big league debut. In 2019, he thought his dream had finally come true. But the Phoenix native, called up by the Minnesota Twins, never actually took to the field, per the Guardian. Four years later, it seemed the 33-year-old's dream was sliding away—until he got the news on Sunday. With outfielder Bryan Reynolds on the bereavement list, the Pittsburgh Pirates had a spot to fill, and Maggi of the Double-A Altoona Curve was the man. He sat on the bench for one game, then two. But if he feared a repeat of 2019, he needn't have worried. Indeed, he ended up delivering what Yahoo Sports calls "the feel-good moment of the 2023 MLB season."

Pirates manager Derek Shelton, who served as the Twins' bench coach back in 2019, was eager to throw Maggi in to play. The moment came Wednesday with the Pirates up 8-1 over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the bottom of the eighth inning. Shelton put Maggi in as a pinch hitter for right fielder Andrew McCutchen, and the crowd, including Maggi's parents, gave him a standing ovation, chanting his name. Maggi, who turns 34 next month, raised his hand in acknowledgment. "This is it. This is the moment,'" he recalls thinking, per the Guardian. It wasn't a great start. He fouled a fastball, then suffered a pitch-clock violation, putting him down 0-2. He fouled another pitch, then struck out. But "it's the best strikeout I ever had," Maggi said with a smile following the Pirates' 8-1 win.

"The ultimate goal is the big leagues" and now "my name is in history," continued Maggi, a 15th-round pick for the Pirates in 2010. "I put on a big league uniform, and I shared the field with the world's greatest players." Plus, "I saw my dad crying," he said, per the Guardian. "I don't think I ever saw him cry before." As Axios reports, just 10% of minor league players ever reach the major leagues, and "it's even rarer for players Maggi's age to still be grinding it out in Double-A, where the average player is roughly nine years younger than him." "I know the last 13 years have not been wasted," Maggi went on, reminding others that "if you love something, go for it." "Anything is possible," he said. "Never give up. ... If you love something, go for it." (More uplifting news stories.)

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