It goes without saying that making your major league debut is as big as it gets for a baseball player. However, for Atlanta Braves rookie Evan Gattis, the already special occasion will take on an even greater significance for several different reasons that we'll lay out for you.
First, and most importantly, is that his family was able to make the trip to Atlanta to watch his debut in person. Another is that he got to face-off against one of the best starting pitchers — recent struggles aside — of the current era in Roy Halladay. And to go one step further, Gattis also collected his first career hit off the veteran right-hander.
That's almost a dream debut right there, but let me explain how the story gets even better.
Gattis' first hit wasn't just any hit. It was a solo home run, making him the first player to ever homer off Roy Halladay in their major league debut. That's a tremendous feather for his cap. But the cherry on top for Gattis has to be the timing. At the very moment he connected against Halladay, his father was being interviewed on the Braves television broadcast, meaning every time he goes back to watch that milestone, he'll hear, see and relive the reaction of his dad at perhaps his proudest moment as a parent.
I have to admit, I've watched the clip 15 times and it's given me goosebumps each time. And if that's how I felt, imagine how Gattis himself felt as he rounded the bases, or how he'll feel once he finally gets to sit back and take the whole experience in.
Clearly, Gattis hadn't quite done that yet in the minutes following Wednesday's 9-2 victory over Philadelphia, but his excitement could hardly be contained when talking to the Atlanta Journal Constitution's David O'Brien.
“There’s no (words) to explain it,” said Gattis, who led off the fourth inning with a home run in his second plate appearance. “I’m glad I got that one out of the way. Couldn’t have planned it. Just excited. Happy. Little emotional after the game.”
And it turns out there was actually one more perfect moment for the Dallas, Texas native to come after the game. The man who caught the ball, Bryce Kammeyer, attended Texas A&M. That's the same school that offered Gattis a scholarship out of high school, but he actually turned them down to attend drug rehab.
Electing to be a good (and maybe even forgiving) guy, Kammeyer presented the ball to Gattis with the simple request of a handshake and a signed baseball to replace it with.
Gattis realized the dream, then lived it to its fullest. Now he has the baseball to remember it by and a raw, emotional moment that will live forever on video that I'm not sure any other professional baseball player can claim to share.
It almost makes you wonder where he could possibly go from here.
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