• April 18, 2024

Atlanta Braves call up, give an at-bat to Sean Kazmar Jr., who last played in majors in 2008

CHICAGO – It was worth the wait out loud Atlanta Braves Infielder Sean Kazmar Jr..

The 36-year-old Kazmar celebrated his first major league in more than 12 years on Saturday Chicago Cubs.

The result of the play meant very little compared to the resilience Kazmar showed when he had stamped it out from minors over the years.

“What a good feeling,” said Kazmar. “Having that opportunity early in the game was great. Firstly, it was fantastic to wear it with an Atlanta Braves uniform and, secondly, to do it in Wrigley Field.”

Kazmar was an amateur drafting round five pick from 2004, and eventually appeared in 19 games for 2008 San Diego Padres. It’s been a life in the minors ever since, including the last seven seasons in the uniform of Atlanta’s triple-A partner, the Gwinnett Stripers.

The gap between appearances in the big leagues was the largest since right-handed Ralph Winegarner, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Winegarner played for the on June 23, 1936 Cleveland Indians and did not return to the majors with the St. Louis Browns until July 7, 1949 – a period of 13 years, 14 days.

The last year has been perhaps the most difficult for Kazmar, considering that there was no baseball in a minor league due to the pandemic. Like all teams, the Braves had a 60-man roster, but Kazmar wasn’t part of it.

“It’s crazy,” he said. “At that time I was at home a year ago because of unemployment. It was quite difficult to get a job if you weren’t sure if you would be a part of it (roster).”

But when 2021 arrived, Kazmar was right back in uniform, and Braves manager Brian Snitker called him their MVP for the third year in a row.

“It’s like a man’s debut,” said Snitker. “A second debut for him.”

Before Saturday’s game, Snitker called it a career highlight to let Kazmar know he was called up. When Ozzie Albies After leaving the game on Friday, Kazmar knew he could be back on the show after being hit by a pitch.

“I tell the boys all the time, you never know in this game,” said Kazmar with a smile. “It never really left me, especially in the last few years when I played at Gwinnett. I still felt like I could play at that level.”

Kazmar’s wife dropped everything on Friday and took a Redeye flight from Arizona to Chicago to be in attendance. His parents watched too.

“This is the stuff you love about baseball,” said Cubs executive and former Brave, David Ross. “I love hearing these stories and seeing these things happen in baseball. It’s great for our game.”

Kazmar is confident of staying with the Braves for a while but was unsure of his future after his first attack on Saturday. If that’s all, he doesn’t complain. Not going back after a 12 year trip.

“I would only do it again for a day like today,” said Kazmar. “It was worth the wait to get in and take another punch.”

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