It’s the start of the season for the various minor baseball networks on Tuesday. What is also called affiliate baseball. The pandemic has forced the cancellation of the season of all circuits, from level A low to AAA, in 2020.
For several American communities, it is therefore the return of their local team and a new opportunity to see the best players in the world of tomorrow. Romanticized and caricatured in the cinema in a masterpiece like Bull Durham, minor baseball brings together some historical moments.
The first that comes to mind is the story of Jackie Robinson. Not only were these the first steps in a career that transcended sport, but the city of Montreal holds a special place there.
April 15 is Jackie Robinson Day, as it marks the date of those major baseball debuts. Earlier, April 18, 1946, Robinson is playing Game 1 of his only season in minor baseball. He then wears the colors of the Montreal Royals. The 27-year-old finished his first meeting with four hits in five at-bat, including a home run. He steals two goals, produces four runs and crosses plate four times.
On top of that, his aggressiveness causes two bald feints. One of them allows him to trot to the plate.
In his autobiography, titled My own Story, Jackie Robinson describes in short having perceived that a part of the story was about to change, after this meeting at Roosevelt Stadium in New Jersey.
He adds that from that moment, the wall that encloses the Negro Leagues is about to be broken down. Robinson believes that all spectators present on this day realize that a line is drawn in history to right injustices.
This season, he finished with a batting average of .349 and a total of 40 goals stolen. He guides his people to the best record in the International League (100-54) and to the title of the Junior World Series.
The next segment highlights an athlete who has transcended the world of sports in North America. So much so that he gave himself challenges trying another sport.
Michael Jordan’s parenthesis in professional baseball began on April 8, 1994. The previous week, the White Sox organization, owned by Jerry Reinsdorf – also owner of the Bulls – sent Jordan to the Birmingham Barons at AA level. .
Jordan wants to pay tribute to his father, who died the previous year. He has always seen his son as a major league player.
Except that the basketball legend’s first game is a call to humility. He was held in check in 3 appearances and was struck out twice.
Jordan was in the Barons ‘second game of the regular season, having been with the White Sox in a pre-season game against the Cubs in the Barons’ first game.
This opening game was the only one of his baseball career. Jordan would return to write basketball history afterwards. We can’t blame him. He will have maintained a .202 batting average with three homers in 127 games.
The turning point of the 2010s was essential in the history of the Nationals. In 2009, we drafted Stephen Strasburg in 1st place. The following year, it was Bryce Harper’s turn. A batting phenomenon that had stunned the baseball planet in a showcase. His circuits with an aluminum baton at Tropicana Field were practically science fiction.
Harper plays a first Level A meeting with the Hagerstown Suns, in 2011. The Washington Post, in an article published the day after his first game, designates Harper as the best prospect to land in Hagerstown since Willie Mays. Just that.
The room filled with more than 6000 fans remains on its appetite for this game. Harper is held in check in 3 appearances, in addition to hitting a walk.
He recovered throughout the season. Despite his young age of 18 – a highly unusual phenomenon in professional baseball – Harper has maintained a .318 batting average with 14 home runs in just 72 games.
After a brief stoppage at AA level in 2011, then a dip at AAA level in April 2012, Harper made his major baseball debut at the age of just 19.