Marté finally called up to the bigs: 'I made it'

May 29th, 2021

has spent the better part of 11 seasons working to get to where he is today -- at Fenway Park, in a big league uniform, enthusiastically waiting for that first big league at-bat.

For someone who played his first professional game as a 17-year-old a decade ago, this was, to put it mildly, a pretty big deal. When Marté received the news that he was being summoned to Boston to join the Marlins, he immediately got on the phone to give the good news to his family.

In baseball terms, you could say Marté, a native of San Francisco de Macoris in the Dominican Republic, fell to an 0-2 count before finally connecting with that big hit. He called his wife. No answer. Then he called his parents. No answer. So he tried his sister, and -- eureka! -- she picked up.

“Finally,” Marté said with a chuckle. “She picked up the phone and she got so excited. You see her face and she was so happy, crying.”

His sister wasn’t the only one who shed tears. Marté, who has amassed 3,362 plate appearances in 908 games of professional ball, reacted similarly to his sister when his Triple-A coaches relayed the news to him in Jacksonville, Fla.

“They said, ‘Luis, you’re going to the big leagues,’” Marté recalled. “And I said, ‘No way.’” And then I just sat down and started shaking. Then the next thing, I was crying. I didn't know what to do.”

When Marté finally got ahold of his parents, the reactions were the same. Dad cried. Mom cried. Marté found himself advising both, separately to “just calm down.”

“I made it,” Marté said to his dad. “’I’m here. I have to keep working hard and hopefully stay in the big leagues for a while, and help the Marlins with a World Series.’

There were times every now and then over the years where Marté, a father of two, wasn’t sure he’d ever get this far. But he never really gave quitting any serious thought. He credits his dad’s encouragement for helping him stick with it.

“When I was 3 years old, my dad used to take me to the field like every single day back in [the Dominican Republic]. He's the one that trained me my entire life,” Marté said. “At one moment I said, ‘Oh, I need to give up.’ Then I said, ‘No, I want to play baseball.’ I owe that to my dad. I'm here and I guess he's so proud of me right now. I don't even know how special it is for him.”

Marté, whose journey began almost 10 years ago to the day when the Rangers signed him as a teenager, was batting .263 over 18 games for Jacksonville at the time of his callup. He can play second, short and third and provides infield depth that’s been tested with the loss of Miguel Rojas to a dislocated finger.

The callup was the first big hurdle; actually getting into a game will be the next. Manager Don Mattingly understands how special it will be for Marté when that happens.

“You get here, and you don't really want that to be all there is,” Mattingly said. “But it is a realization of a dream for you, as you're fighting through the Minor Leagues and playing in different leagues and buses and different camps. To get here is a special feeling. You feel it through his smile and his eyes and his words. I love seeing it.”

Starling’s back
Luis isn’t the only Marte happy to be with the Marlins in Boston. Starling Marte (no relation) was activated from the injured list on Friday after a six-week hiatus due to a rib fracture he suffered while swinging the bat in a game in mid-April.

Marte, who started in center field in the opener at Fenway on Friday and doubled in his first at-bat, said the two rehab games he played in with Jacksonville helped him get his timing down before he returned to big league action.

“It mostly helped me catch up to the velo, and it helped me to prepare for this level,” he said. “We have pitchers that have experience throwing to veterans like me, and [it helped] to have high-caliber pitches you can see, and get ready for the games here.”