PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Weston Wilson braved a blood clot in his shoulder that derailed his career, endured a year out of pro ball and survived a stint driving for a food service — oh, and all 2,836 minor league plate appearances — to finally get the call to the big leagues.
And on the third pitch Wilson saw in his first big league at-bat, the Philadelphia Phillies’ left fielder socked one into the seats in left-center. Yes, a home run, in front of teary members of his family at Citizens Bank Park. The whole group celebrated a long-awaited milestone for the 28-year-old rookie who was drafted in 2016.
Could there be a better Philly debut for a ballplayer?
Hold that champagne toast.
Wilson was upstaged by Michael Lorenzen’s no-hitter in the pitcher’s first start at home for the Phillies, a 7-0 win over the Washington Nationals on Wednesday night. Lorenzen became the fifth pitcher in major league history, and only the second since 1900, to throw a no-hitter in his home debut with a new team.
Hey, Weston Wilson, remember when you were the story of the game for about five innings?
“Hey, it’s all him, it’s all him,” Wilson said with a laugh as he pointed at Lorenzen. “He deserves it.”
Wilson deserved his time to shine, as well. Several teammates stopped by his clubhouse locker to offer praise and congratulations to the recent call-up who played 706 games in the minors.
“It was great to see you out there,” team president Dave Dombrowski said.
Wilson batted seventh against the Nationals and hit a solo shot off Washington starter MacKenzie Gore in the second inning for a 4-0 lead.
“I did not feel my legs,” Wilson recalled of his trip around the bases.
Marlon Anderson was the last Phillies player to homer in his first MLB at-bat, on Sept. 8, 1998.
Wilson’s final line: 1 for 1 with three runs scored, one homer, two walks and one steal.
Wilson was selected by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 17th round of the 2016 draft, and had 642 hits and 92 homers in the minor leagues until he was called up Sunday from Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
“I’ve had a lot of at-bats,” Wilson said. “Just remembered that, that this isn’t the first one.”
Wilson was greeted after his homer by teammate Bryce Harper at the top step of the dugout, while his family cheered on one of the newest Phillies from the stands.
Wilson’s parents, sister, brother and wife were part of a cheering section for the rookie who was called up after outfielder Brandon Marsh went on the injured list.
Wilson said he had about 15 to 20 friends and family among the crowd of 30,406 at Citizens Bank Park. He was the fifth Phillies batter to homer in his first career plate appearance
“Obviously, we are thrilled about him being here, but the lessons he’s learned through these years and through this journey have been amazing,” his dad, Bill, said on the NBC Sports Philadelphia broadcast. “He’s just an incredible young man, very humble, and he has worked so hard. He’s just had a great support system and it’s just been very special.”
Wilson also walked in the fourth inning, stole second base and scored on a bloop single by John Rojas that made it 6-0. Among his many firsts, Wilson was the first Phillie since 1901 to homer and steal a base in his first game.
“I had a lot of guys in this clubhouse come up to me and just say, don’t change what you’re doing, you got here for a reason and just be yourself,” he said. “You got here for a reason.”
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