This article appears in the July 2018 issue of Sports Illustrated Kids.
When did it hit you that you had really made the big leagues?
Josh Bell, Pittsburgh Pirates
“My debut was July 8, 2016. It was a weekend series at home against the Chicago Cubs. My family was there, my hitting coach from back home, a couple people from A to Z. My sister was there and my parents. I faced Jake Arrieta my first at bat and got a slider, down and away. I ended up getting a hit to right centerfield, and we ended up winning that game. It was pretty special. The next day, I hit a grand slam off Adam Warren in another pinch hit at bat. We ended up winning that game as well; it kind of put that game away. Both at bats were pretty surreal; both felt like I was almost on a cloud, where your body takes over and your mind quiets, and the game becomes that much easier.
Willson Contreras, Chicago Cubs
“My first at bat in the big leagues was one I will never forget. I was living out my dream, but I was also anxious. I thank God that I had my first at bat on June 19, 2016, and that I was able to hit the first pitch I ever saw out of the park. The most beautiful thing was that it happened on Father’s Day, and that was the best gift I could’ve given my family. At that point I also realized I was going to need to continue working hard and getting better to keep my spot with the Cubs. The ovation I received from the fans was so great and touching. And the reaction from my teammates in the dugout was the best anyone could ever expect.”
“I was in Triple A with the Rochester Red Wings, and we were in Louisville playing the Bats in June 2013. Two days after, I was supposed to start in Indianapolis, which is my hometown. A bunch of family members had already scheduled to go to Indianapolis and watch me pitch. [Manager Gene Glynn] called everybody up before the game and said, “Hey guys, Gibby’s going up to the big leagues.” I still get goose bumps thinking about it today. It was a cool moment getting to call my wife and my mom and dad. I did it on FaceTime and got to see them and share the news. Thankfully the Twins gave me four or five days before I was supposed to pitch, and everybody was able to make the trip up to Minnesota.”
Justin Berl/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images (Bell)