I made my big league debut in 2004 and it's amazing how quickly the time has gone by. My arrival with the Detroit Tigers didn't receive big media attention like the ones we've recently seen, but it was still just as exciting for me.
Here's the story: It was at the end of my Double-A season in Erie, Pa., and we had just been eliminated from the playoffs. I knew our season was ending, so I was planning on packing up my apartment and driving home to Chicago from Erie a couple days later. I wasn't in a real rush to do so, because the next thing on my schedule at the time was going to the Arizona Fall League and I had a lot of time off before I had to report.
Since I would be starting over new the next season, I had just thrown away my cleats and batting gloves and was planning on using a new pair in the fall league. As I was sitting in my locker just taking my time, our minor league coordinator for the Tigers, Glen Ezel, and the manager, Rick Sweet, called Ryan Raburn(notes) and I into the office.
What was up? We really weren't too sure. We just figured they were going to give us some information on the Arizona Fall League since both of us were set to play there.
But to our surprise, the meeting was to let us know we had been called up to the big leagues and that we needed to join the Tigers for their 1 p.m. game the next day in Detroit. My heart almost stopped when they told me. As you advance through a minor league system, you believe that at some point you will be called up, but you are still never really prepared for the moment it all becomes real.
I rushed back to the clubhouse and grabbed my cleats from the trash before it was emptied. I also had to rush home and pack up my apartment over the course of a few hours when I had previously planned on doing it over two or three days.
By the time I cleaned out my locker, it was around 1 a.m. I arrived at my apartment and our flight was scheduled for 6:30 a.m. I had to stay up all night to pack.
I packed so much that I lost track of time, which meant that Roberto Novoa and I ended up missing our flight. So we had to drive ourselves on the 275-mile trip from Erie to Detroit.
We arrived in Detroit at about 12:15 p.m. for the game, which was going to start in 45 minutes. I luckily wasn't in the lineup that day, because I was exhausted. The excitement of being in the big leagues and a 30-minute power nap from the night before were the only things helping me get through the day.
After the game, I was able to rest in the hotel finally. I was set to start the next night — Sept. 13, 2004 — against the Minnesota Twins. As I rested, my excitement turned into nervousness and butterflies in the stomach. Unlike some of the names this year, I hadn't really had a lot of time to think about when my big league debut would come. It all hit me at once.
A lot of questions went through my head: How will I feel during my first at-bat? What about when fielding my first fly ball? What would I think when I first took the field?
I then felt like I had never hit before in my first at-bat during the third inning. The pitcher I was facing was Brad Radke and I figured that since I was the new guy he didn't know much about me, so he would just come right after me and give me balls to hit. Of course, I was forgetting that the Twins were still in the playoff picture and he was pitching to get me out. I grounded out to first.
I went 0-for-4 in my debut, but a lot of my friends and and family were able to watch the game and they called me right after. It might have been the most exciting and exhausting 36 hours of my life. Of course, I wouldn't trade the experience for anything.
* * *
Curtis Granderson plays for the New York Yankees and his blog will appear regularly on Yahoo! Sports' Big League Stew during the 2010 season. Make sure to check out and support his Grand Kids Foundation.
Read his previous posts here.