Baseball is a game where seemingly unattainable dreams regularly come true. We won’t speak for Milwaukee Brewers rookie Nate Orf, but that might be how his entire week has felt.
The 28-year-old infielder was finally called up to the big leagues on Monday, six years after he was signed by the Brewers as an undrafted free agent. On Wednesday, he picked up his first major-league hit by launching a dramatic and ultimately game-deciding solo home run in Milwaukee’s 3-2 win against the Minnesota Twins.
In doing so, Orf became the tenth player in Brewers franchise history to hit a home run for his first MLB hit.
After the fact, he was given one of the most memorable curtain calls we’ve ever seen.
The appreciative Brewers fans were well aware of Orf’s milestone moment. Once he returned to the dugout, they cheered and cheered waiting for him to take a bow. When Orf hesitated, teammates Manny Pina and Jesus Aguilar took charge, hoisting Orf on their shoulders and carrying him up the dugout steps so that the fans at Miller Park could bask in the moment with him.
It was an amazing moment that looked like it was written and produced in Hollywood. Appropriate considering that Orf’s story has a Hollywood feel to it.
Six years in the making
As mentioned, Orf went undrafted in 2012 after finishing a respectable career at Baylor. His search for an opportunity led him to the Brewers, where he would agree to sign a $500 contract.
That’s five-hundred, with no commas needed or decimal points missing.
Nate Orf went undrafted out of Baylor. Brewers scout Brian Sankey asked if he would sign for $1,000 and Orf said heck, he’d sign for a Snickers bar.
So the Brewers gave him $500.
“I cost myself $500,” Orf said Monday, after making it to MLB. “Not a good move.”
— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) July 2, 2018
Obviously, not many players that go undrafted end up making it to MLB. Orf though was relentless in his persistence and determination. During his time in the minors he’s consistently been one of the Brewers most productive hitters. Yet he was always passed over for MLB promotions by higher draft picks and higher ranked prospects.
When he started this season on fire — in 74 games at Triple A, Orf earned All-Star honors by hitting .307 with 18 doubles, three triples, 39 RBI and 20 stolen bases — Brewers fans started a #FreeNateOrf movement on social media. With injuries piling up lately, the Brewers had little choice but to give Orf his long overdue opportunity.
It paid off Wednesday in a big way for the first-place Brewers.
The perfect script
Adding to the Hollywood drama is the fact that Orf really isn’t a home run hitter. In 2,595 minor league plate appearances, Orf managed just 21 home runs. That’s one homer per 123.5 plate appearances. Yet in his ninth MLB plate appearance, he launched his first MLB roundtripper.
It almost felt like this was how his journey was meant to go.
We’re not sure how long Orf will be around, or how many more opportunities he’ll receive with the Brewers. Once the team starts getting healthy, there won’t be much room on the major-league roster. But he’s definitely made a mark and created a moment that won’t soon be forgotten in Milwaukee.
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