TERRE HAUTE —
Thousands of us have dreamed of swinging a bat or fielding a ball under the bright lights and in the big cities of Major League Baseball — The Show. In a town that was home to Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown, Max Carey, Art Nehf, Tommy John, Brian Dorsett and the Terre Haute Phillies, that is true as much here as anywhere boys and girls carve ball diamonds out of grassy fields and play catch on 95-degree days.
Josh Phegley, the former Terre Haute North Vigo High School and Indiana University catcher, is living that dream after being called up from the minors to the Chicago White Sox just a short week ago today.
In his first five big league games, Phegley has created quite a stir, both back at home and in Chicago.
First game, first hit.
Second game, first home run.
Third game, second home run.
Fifth game (on Thursday), grand slam home run on a full-count, 83-mph changeup deposited into the left field seats in the sixth inning. The Sox went on to beat Detroit, 6-3 — the second time cellar-dweller Chicago has won in Phegley’s five games.
Going into tonight’s game against the Phillies, Phegley has four hits in 20 at bats, a .200 average. But three of those hits have been home runs and he has eight RBI — and a slugging percentage (total bases divided by total at bats) of .650. He also sharply picked off a runner who had ventured too far off of first base.
All of that is making Phegley an instant media star, which, based on online video, he has handled with admirable poise and articulation.
Big league reality came to bat in Phegley’s fourth game when Phegley went 0-for-5 against Detroit. But the Sox won that night, which, as with all good team players, probably meant more to Phegley than his own hitting.
As he well knows, that up-and-downness is part of life in the major leagues, and obviously that 0-for-5 night and a day off didn’t discourage him, just made him work harder and smarter. Those who know him are not surprised by his composure, drive and determination.
However long Phegley stays in the majors — and we hope it is for the rest of his playing career — the young catcher’s family, friends and hometown supporters can scream their heads off and be proud that Phegley is representing himself and Terre Haute so well in what remains the national pastime.