May 31, 2023

Drew Maggi waved to Pirates fans before stepping into the box for his first MLB at-bat.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Drew Maggi waved to Pirates fans before stepping into the box for his first MLB at-bat. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

Judging the MLB season by feel alone, the Pittsburgh Pirates are arguably the best baseball team. After being considered one of the worst clubs to enter the season, the team boasts a top-10 offense, a top-10 pitching staff, a resurgent Andrew McCutchen and a division-leading record of 17-8. There’s plenty to be happy about in Pittsburgh.

And if you need proof of that, look no further than Wednesday’s 8-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Pirates didn’t just knock down one of baseball’s greatest titans during the game. It also gave baseball fans the feel-good moment of the 2023 MLB season.

It happened in the bottom of the eighth inning. With the Pirates comfortably ahead, 33-year old rookie infielder Drew Maggi stepped at the plate for the first time. After 13 seasons with the minors, Maggi finally made his major league debut.

Pirates fans gave Maggi a standing ovation — and teammates cheered him on — as he was announced over the loudspeaker at PNC Park.

Maggi even took a moment to acknowledge the crowd and briefly waved to the fans before stepping into the batter’s box. Kudos to home plate umpire Jeff Nelson, who gave Maggi his moment without accusing him of a pitch-clock violation before his first official at bat.

It wasn’t long before the rookie had his first “welcome to the big leagues” moment. After fouling the first pitch he faced from Dodgers successor Alex Vesia, Maggi was tagged for a pitch-clock violation for taking too much time to get on set. Fans – and McCutchen – booed when Nelson called.

Maggi fouled the next pitch and saw the third pitch of the at bat sail high out of the strike zone before lashing out on a slider. The ball briefly escaped catcher Austin Wynns, who quickly recovered and threw out Maggi trying to reach first base. As Maggi ran off the field, fans continued to cheer him on.

Maggi spoke about his performance after the game and said he was grateful for the support from the home city fans.

Drew Maggi finally gets his moment

Even the most passionate baseball fans were unaware of Maggi’s story until recently. After the decision was made, the team released footage of Maggi finally getting the call. His teammates applauded as Maggi sat in stunned silence in the clubhouse.

When he finally got to his feet, Maggi’s first words were “holy f***”.

Maggi was originally drafted by the Pirates in the 15th round of the 2010 MLB Draft. He advanced to Double-A in 2013 and spent a few seasons there before being drafted to Triple-A in 2016. He spent the past six seasons mainly playing in Triple-A, although he was assigned to the Double-A Altoona Curve for the 2023 MiLB season. He played 8 matches with the Curve in 2023 before finally getting the call.