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Long’s whirlwind 3 days to Major League debut

Prospect's life upended after surprise callup; 'It's real now'
@jessicacamerato
May 11, 2019

BOSTON -- It was around 10:20 p.m. PT Thursday when Shed Long received the news he had been waiting long to hear -- he was going to the Majors … the next morning. The moment the 23-year-old had been waiting for finally was within reach. Before Long had to fly

BOSTON -- It was around 10:20 p.m. PT Thursday when Shed Long received the news he had been waiting long to hear -- he was going to the Majors … the next morning.

The moment the 23-year-old had been waiting for finally was within reach. Before Long had to fly at 6:50 a.m. Friday to meet the Mariners in Boston, he had to call family and friends first.

“The person I talked to the longest was [Royals outfielder] Billy Hamilton,” Long said. “He and I are real close [from the Reds system]. We talked on the phone for like an hour. He was asleep, and I called him like eight times. We talked for a little while, and five minutes later, he called me back and said, ‘I can’t even sleep. I’m more excited than when I got called up.’”

Long grabbed everything he usually needs for a road trip and left the rest behind to be shipped to Seattle. He headed home around midnight, where his night was just getting started.

Laundry. Lots of laundry.
Before Long could pack, he had to make sure he had clean clothes for the trip. He previously had mapped out a day for odds and ends before hitting the road with the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers, but a quick change of plans left him scrambling for the laundry detergent.

“I went home and had to do [two loads of] laundry because I wasn’t prepared,” he said. “We were leaving Tacoma like two days later, so I was like, ‘The last day I’ll procrastinate and do laundry and pack.’ I packed one bag for my clothes, one bag for the field.”

Long finally went to sleep around 3:15 a.m., only to be woken by his alarm clock an hour later. As he put on his suit to make the early morning trek across the country, the reality sunk in.

“I was putting on my dress shirt, and I started sweating and shaking, like, ‘It’s real. It’s real now,’” he said. “It took me like 10 minutes to button up my sleeves. [I was thinking,] ‘Is this how it’s going to be all day?’ It wasn’t nervous, I was just anxious -- anxious to see how it’s going to be, anxious to know how my debut’s going to go, wanting to do so well.”

Mariners, party of two
Long wasn’t alone on the trip. Triple-A teammate J.P. Crawford also had been called up. News of Long’s promotion had not been announced yet, and he played it cool before surprising Crawford.

“I texted him, ‘Hey, are you on the flight?’” Long said. “I didn’t want him to know. I was like, ‘Good luck bro, ball out. I’ll see you soon.’”

Crawford was excited by his travel companion, and Long was happy to have him around, too. Crawford had gone through his first callup before. He helped Long keep the anxiousness at bay and the day in perspective.

Long suited up in a Mariners uniform, where he had a wide smile as he soaked in his surroundings. He set his sights on what would become the backdrop of his Major League debut, and soaked it all in.

“It was good for me to have J.P. with me all day yesterday because he was telling me, ‘It’s the same.’ He’s been through it,” Long said. “That’s what’s weird. I got out there [on the field] and looked at J.P. like, ‘Bro, it’s the same. It’s the same. Just a bigger crowd.’”

The day finally is here
After a night of enjoying the amenities of the Major Leagues -- “[The hotel room] doesn’t get better than that,” he said -- Long returned to Fenway Park early Saturday morning for the moment he had envisioned for years. There it was on the bulletin board a few feet from his locker: his name, printed in the ninth spot in the Mariners’ starting lineup and playing second base.

Long had his family in the seats for his debut in which the Mariners fell, 9-5. His core circle of high school friends gathered together to watch the game from afar. Long went 0-for-3 with a walk and a notable diving stop at second in what was the conclusion of a whirlwind three days and the beginning of his Major League career.

“I can say I’m officially a big leaguer,” Long said with a smile. “I’m part of the, what, one percent that gets a chance to put on a big league uniform and go out on the field and perform in front of so many people.”

Jessica Camerato is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Boston. Follow her on Twitter @jessicacamerato.