PITTSBURGH — There is what’s called a long time coming, and then there is Drew Maggi.
After spending 13 seasons and over playing in over 1,100 games in the minor leagues since the Pittsburgh Pirates drafted Maggi in 2010, the 33-year-old finally was able to make his major league debut in the Pirates’ win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night.
With an 8-1 lead in the bottom of the eighth inning, Derek Shelton opted to have Maggi hit for designated hitter Andrew McCutchen.
With his parents in the stands, Maggi stepped into a big league batter’s box for the first time.
“Anybody else get emotional? Cause it was emotional in our dugout, man. That was cool. That was really cool. I mean to be able to, as long as I’ve known him, to be able to be the person that was telling him, yeah it was really cool,” Shelton said on the long awaited debut.
Maggi can finally call himself a big leaguer, and the setting couldn’t have been scripted any better.
In what felt like it was a scene from a movie, the Pirates’ faithful on hand at PNC Park greeted the career minor leaguer with a big ovation. As his at-bat went on, chants of “Maggi” broke out. What was a crowd of just over 12,000 felt like three-times that number.
“(The debut) was way more than I expected. I didn’t even know to do when (the fans) started chanting my name. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to take off my helmet, I was waiting to get on the end of the box. It was overwhelming for me.
“I was trying to focus on the (at-bat) but also like trying to really enjoy the moment, too. There was a lot going on in my mind. It was the coolest thing I could ever imagine. It was the coolest thing that’s ever happened to me,” Maggi said.
Maggi’s story is certainly a feel-good one. People love the underdog — the 1980 U.S. hockey team, Rudy and Drew Maggi. Who cares if he struck out? Maggi can forever call himself a big leaguer.
“I’ve never been more happy for a strikeout in my life,” Maggi joked.
13 minor league seasons. 1,155 minor league games. Six different organizations. In the end, it was all worth it.
“One hundred percent (worth it), because I love baseball. I was grinding for 13 years, but I was doing what I loved. Getting here, my name’s in history. I put on a big league uniform. I shared the field with the world’s greatest. I can finally sleep at night, hopefully.”