Three nights ago, a young shortstop named Nicholas Mackie Hoerner (Nico for short) played his first major league game ever. It was in a Cubs uniform against the San Francisco Padres. He is 22.
On his first time at the plate, Nico had a base hit, prompting the sportscaster to say, “This player has a 1000 batting average.” In the following innings, Nico caught more than one ball and lobbed them to the appropriate teammate for the outs. He also drove in six RBIs, including a home run himself.
If you’re not a baseball fan, perhaps none of this seems important. But this is the tail end of a grueling season, a season that is always injury-riddled by September. It’s way too long (except to line the owners’ wallets), so it was refreshing to see someone called up from the minor leagues who played with new energy and excitement. He kept his composure, but you could tell he was just happy to be there.
By the later innings, many in the crowd were chanting, “Nico, Nico.” Which was equally refreshing because the Cubs were playing in California, not in their home stadium. Maybe the kid’s debut was just what baseball needed to remind owners and managers and players what the game is really about.