Called up: After 13 years in minor leagues, Drew Maggi makes MLB debut

After 13 years in Minor League Baseball, playing 1,155 games, a baseball player’s dreams of making it to the big show finally came true.

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At an age when baseball players may be thinking of retirement, Drew Maggi got called up to the Pittsburgh Pirates over the weekend. Wednesday night, weeks before he turns 34 years old, Maggi was put into the game to pinch hit for the Buccos’ five-time All-Star Andrew McCutchen in the eighth inning, The Associated Press reported.

The Pirates were already leading the Los Angeles Dodgers by seven runs.

When he took to the plate, the crowd at PNC Park chanted, “Maggi, Maggi, Maggi,” his teammates stood at the dugout railing and cheered him on as he was able to have a moment to take it all in before stepping into the box.

Alex Vesia threw four pitches to Maggi who struck out on a slider. Maggi also had a pitch-clock violation in his first at-bat with the black and gold.

Maggie was playing for Double-A Altoona (Pa.) Curve when he got the call on Sunday when outfielder Bryan Reynolds was put on the Pirates’ bereavement list.

Manager Derek Shelton couldn’t find a place to use Maggi for his first two games with the Pirates, so the hitter was afraid history was going to repeat.

Back in 2019, Maggi was called up by the Minnesota Twins for a couple of days but never got to play before being sent back down.

Shelton and Maggi knew each other before this week’s games. Shelton was the Twin’s bench coach in 2019, CNN reported.

“That was cool. That was really cool,” Shelton said, according to the AP. “I mean to be able to, as long as I’ve known him, to be able to be the person that was telling him (to pinch-hit) was just really cool.”

“Being able to give him a hug this morning, yeah, it was like being able to do something with one of your kids,” Shelton said on Sunday when Maggi got to the clubhouse, according to CNN.

Maggi, who had 4,494 plate appearances in the minors, said he didn’t regret spending all that time in the lower levels of baseball.

“I love baseball,” Maggi said. “I was grinding for 13 years but I was doing what I loved. The ultimate goal is the big leagues. Just kind of getting here, my name is in history. I put on a big league uniform, and I shared the field with the world’s greatest players.”

And he got to play in front of his family who made a last-minute trip to the City of Champions from their home in Phoenix.

“There were a lot of `I love you. We’re proud of you. You did it,!’” Maggi said. “I saw my dad crying. I don’t think I ever saw him cry before. All those years, I wondered what I would say to my parents if that moment ever were to come. They’ve been right there with me. Hearing those words made it all worthwhile. I know the last 13 years have not been wasted.”

Maggi was drafted by Pittsburgh in the 15th round of the 2010 draft as the 447th overall pick.

The Pirates went on to win the game, 8-1, keeping them at the top of the National League Central with 17 wins and 8 losses.

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