By Chris Emma-
CHICAGO (CBS) — Kris Bryant could hear it through the phone. The 23-year-old speaks with his father, Mike, every day, but never had the two experienced a conversation like this.
A baseball dream was set to come true, as Bryant had been notified Thursday that he’d be called up to the Chicago Cubs, making his major league debut Friday at Wrigley Field against the Padres. Mike broke down over the phone. He couldn’t handle the emotions.
“I had never heard my dad cry before,” Kris said Friday. “It’s something we’ve been working for my whole life.”
Along the road through the minors and to Wrigley, as the hype built with each home run, Bryant had the support of his father to cherish. Kris and Mike Bryant share a love of baseball, with Mike having sold his furniture company to serve as his son’s coach.
Mike, a former Red Sox prospect, now works as a hitting instructor based out of their native Las Vegas and was giving a lesson when that phone call came in.
I made it, dad, I made it! I’m here.
Father was stunned silent as son kept going on and on with excitement. Mike then continued his lesson with the 11-year-old hitter he was teaching expressing more jubilance about the news than his instructor. For Mike, there were simply no words for such a moment.
The phone calls from Kris continued, telling his mother and girlfriend. The family hopped on the first flight out from Las Vegas, leaving at 12:50 a.m. local time to make the red eye flight sleepless.
“Imagine your dreams coming true all in one moment, and you get to tell the people closest to you,” Kris said. “That’s a pretty special feeling.”
When news spread to Massachusetts and the home of Kris’ aunt Karen, she drove out to the cemetery where her parents rest. They dreamed of a day when their grandson would play in the big leagues, so Karen sat by their gravestones and reflected. That day was Friday.
“My mother led the league in passion,” Mike said. “And I wish she was here today.”
Before Friday’s game, when Wrigley Field’s grandstands filled with a frenzy, Kris ran out of the dugout with a smile on his face. He had made it.
Waiting behind the batting cage was Bryant’s family, with his father’s grin matching that of his son. He watched batting practice not as a hitting instructor, critiquing that smooth swing he worked tirelessly to mold, but as a proud parent watching his son achieve an incredible milestone.
“I always see my little boy out there,” Mike said. “That’s never going to change, because he’s always going to play the game with that boyish enthusiasm.”
Added Kris: “The time of my life, really. I can’t put it into words how good the feeling is. You work for this your whole life.”
The Cubs drafted Bryant with the second overall pick in the 2013 amateur draft. It was a decision that surprised some at the time, as it seemed Theo Epstein would side toward taking a pitcher. But Bryant just seemed to be the best fit for Chicago.
Friday’s momentous debut of Bryant isn’t a surprise, as a talent of his stature was bound to make the big leagues. Yet, the accomplishment is still something to behold for the family. Mike truly realized his son had potential for this day when he was 14.
When Kris stepped to the plate for his first major-league at-bat, Mike and his family rose from their seats in section 15 of Wrigley Field, a few rows behind the Cubs’ on-deck circle. A packed house on hand rose, too, because this was one of the most anticipated debuts in the ballpark’s 101 years.
Fans celebrated the Cubs’ top prospect, a third baseman with superstar potential. Mike Bryant and his family joined to cherish their son’s dream coming true.
“It’s the coolest thing ever,” Kris said. “I grew up going to big league games and wanting to be there in that position. Now, my family, my parents, my girlfriend get to watch me on this big stage, Wrigley Field, for the Chicago Cubs. It doesn’t get much better than that.”
Follow Chris on Twitter @CEmma670.