If there's one thing Major League Baseball has over any other sport, it's the sheer number of stories involving athletes finally getting their shot.
The unique nature of baseball's farm system, its 162-game grind of a regular season, and deep rosters result in more opportunities for players to get that call up to The Show. Call-ups result in touching stories all the time, and who doesn't love a touching story?
One such story happened this week for the Colorado Rockies and Wynton Bernard.
The Call-Up That Took a Decade to Come
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Wynton Bernard has been in professional baseball for ten years. Before Friday, August 12th, 2022, all 10 of those years had been spent either in the Minor Leagues, Independent League, or abroad in Mexico, Australia, and the Dominican Republic.
Originally drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 35th round of the 2012 MLB Draft, Bernard spent a few years in the lower levels of their packed minor league system. The Padres released him in 2014, but he was soon swooped up by the Detroit Tigers, and he excelled in their MiLB system, winning the Midwest League's MVP after putting up a .323 avg with six home runs and 47 RBIs. Bernard's not only good with a bat, but he has speed on the basepaths and is always a threat to snag a few stolen bases. But, the Tigers would eventually split with the outfielder, who then spent time within the San Francisco Giants and Chicago Cubs organizations.
It wasn't until January of 2021 that the Rockies came calling with a chance to play for their Triple-A club, the Albuquerque Isotopes.
And then on an August night during a rough Rockies season, Bernard finally got that call up to the big leagues as Colorado took on the Arizona Diamondbacks. And he did what I have to imagine so many before him did... he called his mother to inform her of his MLB debut.
This is incredible.
My friend Wynton Bernard is a big leaguer after over a DECADE in the minor leagues. Here is the moment he told his mom. ??
— Ben Verlander (@BenVerlander) August 13, 2022
In the emotional call to his mom, Bernard talks about her strength in caring for his father, who suffered a stroke while Wynton was in college at Niagara University, and how through her example he continued to fight, even as his dreams of playing in the Majors kept eluding him. Inspiring, heartfelt, emotional, beautiful.
That's not where this story ends however, it's where it begins.
The Perfect MLB Debut for Wynton Bernard
For his major league debut, Rockies manager Bud Black had inserted Wynton into the starting lineup batting 8th and playing center field. After grounding out in his first at-bat in the third inning and striking out to end the 4th, Bernard came up to the plate in the bottom of the seventh.
Hitting a slow roller to third, Wynton flew down the line. As the throw flew across the infield, the crowd at Coors Field held its breath, but there was no need to fear. Bernard had beaten the throw to first. Wynton Allen Bernard had his first hit in the Majors, at the age of 31, after ten years of hard work to get there.
Except, he was called out. But while the Minors might not have video replay, MLB most certainly does. The call was quickly overturned, and Coors Field erupted.
You would think the entire stadium was packed with Bernard's family and friends with such an outpouring of support. But Bernard wasn't done. He'd quickly steal second and then eventually score on a sac fly, earning his first MLB hit, steal, and run all in one inning in his first game. Also incredible is that at 31 years and 322 days old, Bernard became the oldest player to get a hit and steal a base in his Major League debut since the Cardinals' Joe Delahanty got his in 1907.
ICYMI: On Friday night, after 10 years in the Minor Leagues, Wynton Bernard recorded his first Major League hit, steal and run. You love to see it ?? pic.twitter.com/dKNAFoYhAr
— MLB (@MLB) August 14, 2022
After the game, which the Rockies won 5-3, the 31-year-old Bernard came out of the dugout to sign autographs. Over half an hour later, he was still there doing so. This is why we love baseball. This is why we love sports. It's not about the strikeouts or the standings, it's about seeing human moments played out on the biggest stages, inspiring everyone.
You don't have to be Juan Soto hitting homers to feel like an all-star. Sometimes you just need to be Wynton Bernard hitting a groundball to third.
MORE: The Colorado Rockies Have Drafted Better QBs Than the Denver Broncos
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