(Photo courtesy of Jason Hanna/Kansas City Royals)

God could have put me in any major league system. He could have put me in a really struggling organization where I could have made it quickly through the ranks. Instead, God's path took me through the Royals organization, where major league spots were not easy to come by.

In 2014, as I finally made it to Triple-A Omaha, our major league team was heading to the World Series. Even though I hit .340 that season in the minors, it seemed like there was nowhere to put me. Our major league roster was stacked.

In 2015 the Royals got even better, and that season our organization won our first World Series since 1985. But as the big league players were enjoying two of the best seasons in our franchise's history, I was really struggling.

Earlier that season I thought I had finally gotten my chance. Alex Gordon got hurt that July playing for Kansas City, and I got the call. I was heading to the big leagues!

I started packing my bags and that's when they called back to let me know they had changed their minds and had decided to keep me in the Triple-A system. It hurt, but I was okay. I knew that the rosters expanded in September, and I would surely get my call up then. If they had considered me in July, they were definitely going to bring me up in September.

It didn't happen.

I was asked recently if the time in the minor leagues made me a nicer person, and I didn't know if that was true. I think I've been a nice guy my whole life, and that I would have stayed that way, even if I had been called up the majors as a 23-year-old. But all I know is that God didn't intend for me to be in the majors at that time, and I just accepted whenever He let me break through.

Plus, as I had found out earlier in my life, God can take bad situations and make something beautiful out of them.

(Photo courtesy of Jason Hanna/Kansas City Royals)

In 2005, I met my future wife at a funeral. Jordan was in the grade above me in high school, and I had always known who she was because she was beautiful, but I had never gotten a chance to meet her. Then her great-uncle, who was a good friend of my grandfather, passed away. Out of respect for my grandfather and his friend I attended the funeral, and for the first time in my life I got a chance to talk with Jordan.

A few months later we started dating, and this year, in November, I will finally call her my wife.

I tried to be there for her during a difficult time in her life at the funeral, and now that I was struggling, she was there for me. She knows just what to say when things are going bad, and how to make me feel better. In this profession sometimes it's difficult to tell people's motives when they spend time with you, but with Jordan there's no doubt. It's because she loves me.

She was there with me when I got the call in 2015 that I was staying put, and she was there with me the next season when I found out I was getting called up. For real this time.

I should clarify that Jordan was with me metaphorically, because when I finally did get the call, I couldn't get anybody to answer my phone. Not my girlfriend. Or my parents. Or my siblings. Nobody could answer, because I think they were all asleep.

Our team was playing at Tacoma, Washington, and I found out around 7 or 8 p.m. local time, which meant it was 10 or 11 back home in North Carolina. The thing was, I had to be on a taxi at 3 a.m. that next morning.

So I finally got a hold of Jordan's sister, and then had her wake everybody up to tell them. By this point it was about midnight Tacoma time, and with just three hours to spare before I headed out, I didn't get any sleep at all. I flew straight to Kansas City and drove straight to the field, with none of my stuff. All my gear was on its way to Reno with the Triple-A team, so when I got to the ballpark I didn't have anything to practice with.

Of course, that hardly seemed to matter, because I almost had no time to practice anyway.

By the time I got to Kauffman Stadium, the Royals had already played the first game of a double-header, and they were about to play the second. There's a 45-minute window between games to prepare, so I borrowed some cleats and a glove, and went out to take three or four fly balls. Then I took a few swings, and convinced myself I was ready enough for my debut.

I normally get to the ballpark for a 7 p.m. game at 1 or 1:30, but for the biggest game of my life I was showing up later than most of the fans.

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Thomas Hager