The Road to The Show
Sox Players Look Back at Their Major League Debuts
Every major league player was once a youngster dreaming of making it to the big leagues. For those with the talent and desire to realize the dream, the moment they got the call to the "show" was, as Sox rookie Tyler Saladino puts it, "about as cool as it gets."
Here's a look back at that special moment for four White Sox players:
When centerfielder Adam Eaton got the call, the only thing that stood between him and his dream was a long car ride. His debut with the Arizona Diamondbacks on September 4, 2012, required the long drive from Reno, Nevada, to San Francisco, California.
"That first time I had to drive," said Eaton. "Most guys fly, but I couldn't get a flight to get there on time."
When he finally made it to the Bay Area around noon on the day of his debut, a car accident on the bridge into the city caused bumper-to-bumper traffic. He worried he wouldn't make it to the ballpark at the designated time, but he did.
"To see the type of players you see on TV in the same clubhouse as you is very special," said Eaton. "You know you're in the right place when you see Paul Goldschmidt, Aaron Hill, J.J. Putz. I remember seeing those guys and having the feeling that I'm really in a big-league clubhouse."
Looking back, Eaton said veteran infielder Eric Chavez had the most influence on him during his rookie campaign. After his fall debut, Eaton didn't play much when he got called back up in 2013. That's where Chavez came in. "Chavez, who was bench player at the time, really helped me mask my disappointment and make me a better player off the bench."
Rookie pitcher Carlos Rodon made his debut out of the bullpen on April 21 of this year, describing it as a dream come true. He said he was watching funny YouTube videos with his girlfriend and a buddy when the White Sox called. The 22-year-old is not afraid to admit that his first action was to call his parents.
"I called my mom, and my dad answered," Rodon said. "He was the first person I told in my immediate family. My dad said, 'Oh wow, that's great.' He's a pretty even-keeled guy, pretty calm just like me and doesn't blow things up. My mom was excited though."
Not all stories are that calm and collected. Infielder Gordon Beckham said he didn't sleep at all the night before his June 4, 2009, debut.
"I was told after the game and didn't sleep a wink," said Beckham. "I was exhausted when I got up there, but walking into the clubhouse for the first time was strange and cool-a different vibe that you've never experienced before. It's a rush of energy knowing you were about to play a big league game."
Beckham joined a group of well-known Sox players during his rookie year, making his transition to the big leagues a little easier.
"I think a lot of guys on the 2009 team-Jermaine Dye, Jim Thome, Paul Konerko, A.J. Pierzynski-did what they do best and were good teammates. They had a great influence on me."
Infielder Tyler Saladino is the most recent member of the foursome to make his debut, describing the July 10 experience as surreal.
"It's a blessing, for sure," said the 26-year-old. "Obviously it's a dream I've been chasing my whole life, and it means a lot. I just want to make the most of it."
His debut was in front of a packed Wrigley Field. It was before he even arrived at the ballpark that he tried to balance his nervousness with enjoying the moment. Saladino even took the train to and from the ballpark to embrace life in the city and soak in all he could during his debut weekend in the majors.
"It's the first thing I can actually say I'm speechless about," Saladino said. "I can't really put it into words. The whole thing-facing [Jon] Lester, the triple, my first hit and RBI-it's about as cool as it gets."