If you're judging the MLB season by vibes only, the Pittsburgh Pirates might be the best team in baseball. After being considered one of the worst clubs entering the season, the team boasts a top-10 offense, a top-10 pitching staff, a resurgent Andrew McCutchen and a division-leading 17-8 record. There's plenty to be happy about in Pittsburgh.
If you needed proof of that, look no further than Wednesday's 8-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Not only did the Pirates topple one of baseball's biggest titans in the contest, but also the game gave fans the feel-good moment of the 2023 MLB season thus far.
It occurred in the bottom of the eighth inning. With the Pirates ahead comfortably, 33-year-old rookie infielder Drew Maggi stepped to the plate for the first time. After 13 seasons in the minors, Maggi finally made his major-league debut.
Pirates fans gave Maggi a standing ovation — and teammates cheered him on — as he was announced over the loudspeaker at PNC Park.
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) April 27, 2023
Maggi took a second to acknowledge the crowd, briefly waving to fans before he stepped into the batter's box. Kudos to home plate umpire Jeff Nelson, who allowed Maggi to have his moment without dinging him for a pitch-clock violation before his first official at-bat.
It wasn't long before the rookie had his "welcome to the big leagues" moment. After fouling off the first pitch he saw from Dodgers reliever Alex Vesia, he got dinged for a pitch-clock violation for taking too much time to get set. Fans — and McCutchen — booed as Nelson made the call.
Maggi fouled off the next pitch and watched the third pitch of the at-bat sail high out of the strike zone before striking out on a slider. The ball briefly got away from catcher Austin Wynns, who quickly recovered and threw out Maggi as he attempted to reach first base. As Maggi jogged off the field, fans continued to cheer him on.
Maggi spoke about his appearance after the game, saying he was grateful for the support from the hometown fans.
“Anything is possible. Never give up.”
Drew Maggi will forever be a Major Leaguer. pic.twitter.com/8qQxQsPKso
— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) April 27, 2023
Maggi finally gets his moment
Even the most passionate baseball fans were not aware of Maggi's story until recently. After making the decision, the team released footage of Maggi finally getting the call to the bigs. His teammates applauded as Maggi sat in the clubhouse in stunned silence.
When he eventually got to his feet, Maggi's first words were "holy f***."
It’s been a hell of a journey for Drew Maggi. pic.twitter.com/KPjXxLSj1B
— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) April 23, 2023
Maggi was drafted by the Pirates in the 15th round of the 2010 MLB Draft. He advanced to Double-A in 2013 and spent a few seasons there before getting called up to Triple-A in 2016. He has spent the past six seasons mostly in Triple-A, though he was assigned to the Double-A Altoona Curve to begin the 2023 MiLB season. He played eight games with the Curve in 2023 before getting the call.