September 02, 2010
The calendar has flipped to September and the annual expansion of baseball's rosters will give plenty of players a chance to make their big-league debuts.
Most of those players, of course, will be young guys in their early 20s as GMs, managers and scouts try to figure out the future of their teams.
But a few late-season callups might be guys who are a tad older and are finally achieving their dream after years spent riding buses in the minor leagues.
Jesus Feliciano(notes), 30, got his chance with the Mets back in June. Erik Kratz(notes) was called up to the Pirates in July after nine years in the minors. Both have again been demoted, but at least they can say that their pages on Baseball-Reference are now official. They reached the major leagues.
Completing the tested triumvirate is new Detroit Tigers catcher Max St. Pierre(notes), who was called to Target Field on Wednesday after a trying 14 years of chasing his dream in the minor leagues. St. Pierre didn't get into the 2-1 Tigers loss, but he's been promised playing time by Jim Leyland. (The Tigers manager can relate as he spent 18 years in the minor leagues as a player and manager before ever seeing the big leagues himself.)
• Inspired by old Expos Tim Wallach and Larry Walker, St. Pierre didn't start playing until age 10.
• He grew up in French-speaking Quebec and didn't know much English when he was drafted as a 17-year-old by the Tigers in the 26th round of the 1997 draft. As a result, early communications with his pitchers were difficult and he says that some of his teammates thought he was "dumb."
• St. Pierre has played 978 total games in the minors, mostly split between Double-A Erie and Triple-A Toledo. He was on-hand for the final month of the 2004 Tigers season, but was only in the clubhouse as an emergency catcher and never dressed for a game.
• He struggled with alcohol-abuse problems and told Baseball Prospectus earlier this year that drinking was often a way to give him confidence to speak English.
• Only one of those 14 years has been spent with an organization other than the Tigers. In 2007, the Milwaukee Brewers tried to convert him into a pitcher after saying he had a strong arm. (The experiment failed and he returned to Detroit in 2008.)
Fortunately, St. Pierre stuck with it and now he's being rewarded after a 2010 minor league campaign that saw an upgraded offensive performance join his reputation as a solid defensive catcher.
Asked the usual questions about his upgraded salary, travel and per diem on Wednesday, St. Pierre quickly, but politely, dismissed the inquiries. It's only ever been about one thing. He told MLB.com:
"It's never been about the money. It's always been about the dream. I want to get there. I want everybody back home to say: 'Hey, he made it.'"
Max St. Pierre made it, indeed. That permanent Baseball-Ref page now awaits.
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