Drew Maggi has played 1,155 games in the minor leagues. He has 13 seasons under his belt. But after Wednesday night, he can finally say that he’s a full-fledged big leaguer after being called up this week by the Pittsburgh Pirates. And both his passion and perseverance are gaining a lot of positive attention.

Drew Maggi via MLB YouTube

Maggi, a 33-year-old infielder, stepped to the plate to pinch hit for Andrew McCutchen in the eighth inning and received a standing ovation from teammates and the crowd at PNC Park.

It capped off a long and winding road to finally make it to the promised land.

Despite being struck out by Dodgers pitcher Alex Vesia, it was still viewed by the fan base as a big victory for the well-traveled competitor.

“It’s the best strikeout I ever had,” Maggi told ESPN about his long-awaited moment. “I really can’t (put it into words). I can’t explain how I was feeling in the (batter’s) box. I didn’t even know what to do. You guys were cheering me on. I don’t know, I never expected that. Through the journey, I thought I’d make my debut and it would be a ‘normal’ at bat. Obviously special, but the crowd cheering my name, I got my parents here, my three brothers, and a sister back at home. I mean, this is unbelievable. Thank you, everybody.”

Drew Maggi via MLB YouTube

“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,” Maggi continued.

“They’ve been right there with me. Hearing those words made it all worthwhile. I know the last 13 years have not been wasted.”

Drew Maggi via MLB YouTube

Prior to finally putting on a Pirates uniform, Maggi had been assigned to the Double-A Altoona Curve and started off his 2023 season by going 6-for-31 with three RBIs and one stolen base in eight appearances.

He has accumulated a career .254 average with 978 hits, 45 home runs, 354 RBIs, and 222 stolen bases during his minor league tenure. On April 23, he found out that he would be making the jump all the way to Pittsburgh.

Drew Maggi via MLB YouTube

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“I love baseball,” Maggi said after the game. “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.”

A former member of the Minnesota organization, Drew Maggi originally got a call-up back in 2021. He spent two days on the Twins’ active roster, and was optioned back to the minors without appearing in a game, making him what’s commonly known as a “phantom ballplayer.”

Drew Maggi via MLB YouTube

Originally a 15th-round selection by Pittsburgh in the 2010 draft, Maggi signed out of a baseball factory – Arizona State University. However, his promising future with the franchise fizzled out fast. He would move on to play for the Angles, Dodgers, Indians, Twins, and Phillies organizations before coming back to the Pirates this season.

According to coverage in SI.com, Maggi found out about his call-up from Altoona Curve manager Callix Crabbe in front of the entire team. Crabbe gave a speech about the team’s core values and praised Maggi for embodying all of them. Then, the skipper revealed the emotional announcement. Maggi’s teammates were overjoyed for him and congratulated him on his dream becoming a reality.

Drew Maggi via MLB YouTube

“I always believed this moment would come,” Drew Maggi said after becoming a Pittsburgh Pirate. “There was a little bit of me that was like, ‘You know what? You love playing baseball. Keep going no matter what.”

“Crazy things happen in this game. So I’m very thankful that I’m here and that I get to enjoy this. I’m excited for the day.”

The Pirates (18-8) are off to a surprising start and are currently sitting atop the NL Central, 1 1/2 games ahead of Milwaukee. They will begin a three-game series on Friday night against the Washington Nationals.

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