Last week my client, Padres infielder/outfielder Carlos Asuaje made his major-league debut. Here's what happens when your client finally gets called up to the major leagues for the first time: A very late phone call, followed by pure elation, followed by the dread of finding a flight that will let you make the game in time.
Carlos had a very long minor-league season, because his Triple-A team made it to the Triple-A title game after winning the Pacific Coast League championship. Part of me was happy for him to get a ring after such a wonderful season, while the other part of me is still kind of wondering why he wasn't called up on September 1 to get valuable major-league experience on and off the field.
At 1:00 a.m. my wife was scrambling to find flights to San Diego that landed in time for a 7:10 p.m. game. She found a flight that took off at 7:00 a.m., at an airport 120 miles from my house. I made it to San Diego an hour before the first pitch, but arrived to find my ticket wasn't not at player will call. Given that it was Carlos' first day in the big leagues, it's no shock he hadn't learned about some of the smaller things that go on at the ballpark. Thanks to some help from the traveling secretary, I eventually got my seat.
Carlos entered the game late as a pinch-hitter and was called out looking on a (very outside) pitch by Randall Delgado. I've never missed a client's debut and it's hard to explain the feeling of being there to watch it. Nervous, excited, and proud. It's genuinely overwhelming. I didn't lose it until I saw his father. We hugged and I definitely cried. This kid was doubted his entire career and was rarely considered to be a "guy." He really is a generational person and I know he's going to be a big leaguer for a very, very long time. San Diego is lucky to have him.
And then the game was over. Carlos spotted a fan in the crowd he knew from El Paso and signed a baseball card for him. Then he saw me and smiled. I spoke to the fan who got a card signed. He'd seen Carlos play 50-some times this season and never asked him to sign anything, but really wanted to now. It was a cool moment, within a much bigger cool moment.
Later, downstairs by the locker, Carlos came out looking absolutely exhausted. I got to hug my client, which is always the apex of the debut for me. It is just the absolute happiest moment. I told Carlos on draft day there are three big days in his baseball career: Draft, debut, contract. Two down and one to go. The next day we had a meeting covering business things. He signed a contract to play winter ball in the Dominican Republic for Escogido, where he can be watched by a baseball great and Padres employee Moises Alou, and really get ready to earn a job with the Padres next spring.
Before Carlos and I said our goodbyes, I pulled out a few things for him to sign for my wife, including the baseball used in his first career at-bat. The ball will reside in my office for eternity. Oh, and the day after I left Carlos got his first two career hits, both doubles, so I guess 2,998 to go.
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