For Pete's Sake

Whit Merrifield’s call to the majors led to two home break-ins (the good kind)

Royals Whit Merrifield talks hitting streak

Royals infielder/outfielder Whit Merrifield spoke to reporters prior to a game against the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. He came into the day with a 29-game hitting streak, one shy of matching George Brett's franchise record.
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Royals infielder/outfielder Whit Merrifield spoke to reporters prior to a game against the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. He came into the day with a 29-game hitting streak, one shy of matching George Brett's franchise record.

Royals infielder/outfielder Whit Merrifield has not one, but two interesting stories about being called up to the major leagues.

Let’s begin with the time he actually joined the Royals in 2016. Merrifield recounted the crazy tale while talking with Cleveland Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer for his “Bauer Bytes” on YouTube.

Merrifield made his debut with the Royals on May 18, 2016, and he was really tired by the time he got to Kansas City. A day earlier, the Class AAA Omaha Storm Chasers played an 11 a.m. game in Tacoma, Washington, and then he played golf with teammates afterward.

“We’re finishing just as it gets dark,” Merrifield told Bauer. “We’re all exhausted. As I walk off 18, I get a phone call from our manager who tells me I’m going to the big leagues. It’s like 7:30 (p.m.) Pacific time, so it’s 10:30 East Coast time. So I’m like this is awesome, I get my stuff, we go to the hotel and I call my family, (but) nobody’s answering, everybody’s asleep.

“I call my mom, my dad, my brother, my sister, my fiancee, none of them answer. My fiancee’s mom doesn’t answer, her stepdad doesn’t answer. Finally get a hold of her sister, who’s a nurse, so she’s up late. She checks out of work, goes and breaks into my fiancee’s house, wakes her up, tells her what’s happening. By this time, it’s like midnight. She goes and breaks into my house, tells my parents.”

Two home break-ins? If you have ever wanted to share good news and couldn’t reach anyone, then you understand where Merrifield is coming from.

“All the time I’m in Tacoma, Washington, packing my stuff,” Merrifield continued. “I’ve got a 3 a.m. cab, so I get like no sleep. Fly to KC. We’re playing a doubleheader against Boston. Finally the (first) game gets over, I go into the clubhouse, everybody’s saying hi. Ned (Yost) calls me in and goes, ‘Hey, congratulations, you’re hitting ninth. The game is in like an hour.’”

Merrifield told Bauer all of his equipment was on a bus headed to the Storm Chasers’ next game in Reno, Nevada. So he called a clubhouse attendant in Omaha who gathered some equipment and brought it to Kansas City.

Here’s the really funny thing. Merrifield’s first call to the show came 10 months earlier.

Merrifield was playing for Omaha in a game against the Iowa Cubs in 2015 when Royals left fielder Alex Gordon was injured in a contest against the Rays at Kauffman Stadium.

“I had just scored a run and I was just about to go back on the field and our manager says, ‘Hold on, you’re out of the game,’” Merrifield recalled. “I said ‘Why?’ He said, ‘Gordo got hurt, you’re going to the big leagues.’ This is like the fourth inning. I was all pumped. Everyone’s coming up and congratulating me. And with social media now, even though it wasn’t announced, it got put on that I came out of the game, I’m not hurt, so everyone knows what was going on. My family is in a car driving to Kansas City because it’s late at night, so they’re going to drive.

“The game gets done, I go into the clubhouse, pack up my stuff say goodbye to everybody, walk out to my car. Manager goes, ‘Hold on. Come back.’ I walk back in and the manager says, ‘They decided they’re going to bring up a pitcher instead.’ So I was like, ‘Really.’ He’s like, ‘Yeah, dude. I’m sorry.’”

Transactions for that summer show the Royals recalled rookie pitcher Brandon Finnegan, who had been optioned a day earlier.

“I wasn’t on the 40-man (roster) at the time and I guess they didn’t know who to take off the 40-man. I was hitting like .300 at the time. It was right at the halfway point and I thought this sucks, but they’re thinking of me. I kind of fell off the second half and September came and I didn’t get called up, so I was like ‘This is it. I don’t think it’s ever going to happen.’ I thought about retiring that offseason, decided not to and made my debut in ‘16.”

And that’s why Merrifield has two incredible stories of getting the call to big leagues. Of course, one would have been enough.

Merrifield’s conversation with Bauer includes a number of great insights, including how they almost faced off in the College World Series, how Merrifield nearly missed Super-2 status and their favorite Marvel superheroes.

You can watch it here, starting with the stories of his call(s) to the majors:

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From covering the World Series to the World Cup, Pete has done a little bit of everything since joining The Star in 1997. He writes about baseball and has a quirky blog that augments The Star’s coverage of area teams.
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