DeJong's big smack off Williams nets Big Macs

Milwaukee pitcher's homecoming memorable for more than highlight-reel HR

August 21st, 2019

ST. LOUIS -- The “M” was missing Tuesday from the big neon “BIG MAC LAND” sign in left field at Busch Stadium, and all things considered, Brewers rookie right-hander Devin Williams had a good sense of humor about that.

Williams, making his first career appearance against the team he cheered for as a boy in nearby Hazelwood, Mo., surrendered the home run with two outs in the sixth inning of Monday’s 3-0 Brewers loss that knocked that letter out of commission. The baseball smashed out the lights before actually settling inside the “M,” where it stayed while Williams negotiated the rest of that inning plus a scoreless seventh. He pitched with about 50 family friends in the stands.

“I actually saw that [highlight] quite a few times last night. It seemed like it was following me,” Williams said with a smile. “I told everyone, ‘You’re welcome for the free Big Mac.’”

Well, not so fast. The promotion that scored fans a free Big Mac when a home run found the Big Mac Land seats is no longer -- though McDonald’s did send Big Macs to the St. Louis clubhouse on Tuesday.

"They provided our team with a bunch of free Big Macs," DeJong said. "I passed them out to the guys. Not sure who's going to use them. Some guys might want to double up, I'm not sure."

No one was certain where the “M” had been taken for repair, though DeJong believed that McDonald’s was covering the cost. A Twitter handle (@Big_ACLand) emerged after the smash hit, and the Cardinals announced during Tuesday’s game that McDonald’s is offering $1 Big Macs with the purchase of another.

“That’s not something you can aim for,” DeJong said of the stadium sign. “I saw [the homer] go up. I thought it was going to be up there. I didn’t see the ball come down. It’s funny. I couldn’t do that in another million tries.”

That at-bat notwithstanding, it was a memorable night for Williams, too. The 24-year-old was Milwaukee’s top pick in the 2013 Draft -- he went in the second round; the Brewers forfeited their first-round selection that year to sign free-agent Kyle Lohse, who was coming off five seasons in St. Louis -- and re-emerged this year as a top prospect after returning to full strength from Tommy John surgery. Williams was the Brewers’ lone representative to the All-Star Futures Game before an Aug. 5 promotion from Triple-A San Antonio.

When his family got word of the callup, they immediately checked the schedule and began purchasing tickets for the first Brewers-Cardinals matchup at Busch Stadium.

“Mostly everyone was sitting right by the bullpen and when I started warming up they were all yelling,” Williams said. “Then I heard them, obviously, when I was running onto the field. It was a little bit emotional. It was good to see everybody over here after the game. It was cool.”

Williams said he attended at least 10-15 games a year at the last two iterations of Busch Stadium and at least one World Series parade before heading off to pitch in the professional ranks. His favorite players? Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina, the latter of whom grounded out against Williams to start a 1-2-3 seventh inning on Monday.

“It’s kind of weird being here,” Williams said. “Like, I didn’t go home to my house; I stayed at the hotel. I just wanted to treat it like any other game. I didn’t want to get too comfortable and get out of my routine.”

Someday, perhaps he’ll ask Molina for an autograph.

“We’re chasing them [in the standings]. We can be friends later,” Williams said. “I’ve got to get him out now.”