(Photo courtesy of Amy Kontras/Kansas City Royals)

The ironic part was that I was making my big league debut against the guy who played a role in helping me get there in the first place.

We were playing the Red Sox, so watching my first at-bat from center field was none other than Jackie Bradley, Jr. I didn't have time to say hello before the game started, but after the game he made sure to welcome me to The Show.

 
 

(Photo courtesy of South Carolina Athletics)

If I couldn't tell I had made it at that point, I certainly felt it a few weeks later when I was playing against the Twins. I was a second baseman that night, and when Joe Mauer got on second, he told me that he liked watching me play. Here was a future Hall-of-Famer, telling me he enjoyed how I played the game.

But as quickly as my success came, it was gone just as fast.

I made my debut on May 18, but by July the organization recalled me to Omaha. I had played well - I hit .283 with the Royals my rookie season - but I was being sent back down. It was ironic because Omaha was the place where I had the greatest moment of my baseball career, but now Omaha had a chance to resemble where my career started to go backwards.

But here's the thing, you've got to keep pushing, because God never puts anything on your plate that you can't handle.

I used the demotion to motivate me, and by September of that season I was back in Kansas City. And I've never looked back since.

I hit .288 in 2017, and last year I had the best season of my career. I hit .304, and led the league in hits. Going into the last game of the season, I was also leading the league in the steals, by just one over Trea Turner. It was still a tight race, but when I stepped up to the plate in the eighth inning of that last game, I had my opportunity to cement my lead. I knocked a base hit through the middle to get on first, and on a 1-2 count I took off for second. The throw was off the mark and I was able to slide in safely for the steal.

(Photo courtesy of Jason Hanna/Kansas City Royals)

It was at that point my manager Ned Yost called for me to leave the game...to a standing ovation. I had never been in a situation like that before, and forgot to tip my cap, but I hope the Royals fans know how much I appreciate their support.

God's blessings continued to pour in over the offseason, and now that I signed my contract to keep me in Kansas City, my family will never have to worry about money ever again. Money doesn't make people happy, but it's nice to have that security.

The money and the fame haven’t changed me, and I still plan on doing my same routine before each game. I'm going to read my devotional every day, and about an hour before the game starts I'm going to say a little prayer. And then one more time, as the National Anthem begins to play, I'll thank God for where I am, and what's led me here.

When you play at Kauffman Stadium it's not difficult to be thankful, because there's no other team I'd rather play for than the Royals. And there's no person I'd rather share this journey with than Jordan.

Not only do I feel like the luckiest guy on the planet, I'm lucky enough to realize it as well.

So for all of you young players out there struggling to make it, just remember to keep pushing, because you just might like what God has on the other side.

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Photo courtesy of Sam Lutz/Kansas City Royals

 
Thomas Hager16 Comments