ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Jumping into the outstretched arms of Matt Carpenter wasn’t how Harrison Bader imaged his Major League Baseball debut would go – but he says it’s still a dream come true.
The 23-year-old outfielder was called up by the St. Louis Cardinals, Wednesday morning. That night, he was the starting center fielder against the Colorado Rockies and would score the game-winning run on a sac fly by Jedd Gyorko in the bottom of the ninth.
“I don’t know if I’d say I dreamed about that moment, because that would be a little weird, but definitely just saw the perfect opportunity,” Bader said. “It was awesome. It was a dream come true, for sure.”
He made the four-hour drive, from Memphis to St. Louis with his dad, Louis, who happened to be visiting him with the Triple-A Redbirds.
He had some of his family in the stands when he recorded his first MLB hit, a double in the bottom of the ninth. Even in front of 40,000 fans, in a tie ball game, Bader says the nerves never got to him.
“That’s when you’ve got to be the most calm,” Bader says. “The game is on the line, it’s a tight ball game so that’s when you use your experience and just slow everything down even more so.”
Manager Mike Matheny complimented third base coach Mike Shildt on the aggressive call to send Bader on a shallow fly ball. And also talked about the success recent of Memphis call-ups, Paul DeJong, Luke Voit and Bader. He mentioned the organization’s coaching ability, the players raw talent and…
“How our (veteran) guys take in the young players at Spring Training,” Matheny says. “It means a lot. They get here and they are not overwhelmed, they are not intimidated, they make them feel like part of the club. Then when they get here they are more likely to jump in an contribute like they have been.”
DeJong, who is raking at the plate among the best rookies in baseball this year, and said after the game he was still excited for Bader’s big night.
“We’ve just got good players in this system,” DeJong says. “Everyone comes up here and knows what we’ve got to do and knows what their goal is. So we just come in and get right down to business, but have fun while doing it.”
St. Louis hosts Colorado for the final game of a three-game series tonight at 7:15 p.m., then host a four-game series against the team the Rockies are tied with in the NL West, the Arizona Diamondbacks.