June 3, 2023

PITTSBURGH — After 13 years in the minor leagues, Drew Maggi was greeted with a standing ovation on Wednesday night as he made his major league debut for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The 33-year-old, who played 1,154 games in the minors, pinch hit for five-time All-Star McCutchen in the eighth inning with the Pirates leading by seven runs. Maggi saw four pitches by Alex Vesia, striking out a slider, in an at bat that saw a pitch-clock violation by the rookie batter.

“It’s the best strikeout I’ve ever had,” Maggi said with a smile after the Pirates beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-1.

After 4,494 at bats in the minors, Maggio was called up to Double-A Altoona on Sunday when outfielder Bryan Reynolds was placed on the mourning list. Manager Derek Shelton found no place to use Maggi during his first two games in Pittsburgh and Maggi feared a repeat of 2019 when he was called up by Minnesota for a few days but did not appear in a game.

Shelton, who was the Twins bench coach at the time, was thrilled to get Maggi in.

“That was cool. That was really cool,” Shelton said. “I mean, for as long as I’ve known him, to be able to be the person who told him (to squeeze) was just really cool.”

Pirates' Drew Maggi tips his helmet to the crowd for his first MLB at bats.
Pirates’ Drew Maggi tips his helmet to the crowd for his first MLB at bats.
Getty Images

“This is it. This is the moment,” Maggio recalled thinking.

He fouled a fastball deep in the left field line and fell 0–2 down on the clock violation as the crowd of 12,152 booed plate umpire Jeff Nelson.

After fouling another fastball to the right side, Maggi took a high-and-outside fastball before swinging over a pitch in the sand. He ran to first base, where catcher Austin Wynn’s throw to Freddie Freeman easily beat him for the out.

Drew Maggie
Drew Maggie
USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

Maggi said he never regretted spending more than a decade in the minors. However, he admitted that Wednesday’s at bat made all those years of chasing his dream worth it.

“I like baseball,” Maggi said. “I was grinding for 13 years, but I did what I liked. The ultimate goal is the major leagues. Just a little bit to get here my name is in history. I put on a big league kit and shared the field with the best players in the world.”

Maggi paid a visit to family along the bench rail a few moments after the game. The magnitude of the moment dawned on him as he saw his parents, who had made the journey from Phoenix, and other relatives.

“There were a lot of ‘I love you’. We are proud of you. You did it!” Maggie said. “I saw my dad cry. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him cry before. All these years I’ve wondered what I’d say to my parents if that moment ever came. They have been with me. Hearing those words made it all worth it. I know the last 13 years have not been in vain.”