When he made it to the big leagues, utility infielder Drew Maggi caught the imagination of baseball fans and players alike. After 13 seasons and 1,155 games in the minor leagues as a lifetime .254 hitter with a .349 on-base percentage, Maggi was called up from Double-A to play for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
There were videos of Maggi getting called up, arriving in Pittsburgh to a hero’s welcome, getting his first at-bat as fans chanted his name, and his first hit, an RBI single up the middle. They all went viral on social media as Maggi’s story became a sensation. He made guest appearances on TV, chatting with Alex Rodriguez on ESPN’s Kay-Rod broadcast.
But like Crash Davis in Field of Dreams, the stay in the majors did not last. The Pirates had a pitcher coming off the disabled list, so Maggi was sent back down. He went two for six, stole a base and got an RBI.
Folk hero in the making
Maggi stuck with baseball even when he didn’t make it to the big leagues. He was rewarded with an outpouring of love for the game and respect for Maggi as a guy who got to show up at the ballpark each and likely logged in more bus miles than any other minor league player. His manager for the Altoona Curve said that Maggi exemplified grit, which is undoubtedly an understatement.
Stories like Maggi’s keep many of us returning to baseball or other sports – everybody likes an underdog, someone who perseveres or does it not for fortune or fame but for the love of the game. It worked out for Maggi for a few games, and there’s no doubt in his mind that all the hard work, soul searching, and sacrifice was worth having those games. It’s early in the season, so hopefully, there’s more to come from Drew Maggi.