It wasn’t too long ago that the 2018 leader in hits and stolen bases in Major League Baseball wondered if he would ever make it to the Big Leagues.
Whit Merrifield of the Kansas City Royals had 192 hits and 45 stolen bases last season. And in January, he signed a four-year multi-million dollar deal with the Royals.
It took years of hard work to get to that point, and sometimes Whit wondered if his dream would become reality.
After being a ninth round pick out of the University of South Carolina in 2010, he spent almost six full seasons playing in the minors.
“A lot of nights I laid in bed thinking ‘I don’t know if I will ever get to the Big Leagues,” he said.
While Whit spent his nights wondering about his future, he spent his days working hard and trying to be patient.
When his swing isn’t quite right, or he needs advice, he turns to his father, Bill Merrifield. Bill was a college baseball player who spent six seasons in the minors. It was Bill who introduced Whit to baseball, and who is only a phone call away when Whit has questions.
“He’s my coach,” Whit said. “He’ll always be my coach.”
Whit made his debut for the Royals in 2016, when he was 27-years-old. That season he split between playing for the Royals and the Class AAA Omaha Storm Chasers. It was during his time with the Royals that he earned the nickname “Two-Hit Whit” among Royals fans. The nickname was a nod to his ability to get more than one hit in a game.
It wasn’t until 2017 that Whit became a regular member of the Royals’ lineup after playing nine games that season with the Storm Chasers. Whit played 145 games for the Royals that year and led the American League with 34 stolen bases.
As Whit sat in the dugout last week Monday before an exhibition game between the Royals and the Storm Chasers, he said he is living his “dream.” Although it was hard work to get to this point, Whit said he has always had fun playing. The 30-year-old’s recommendation to kids playing the sport is to enjoy it.
“Have fun,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s a game.”
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