Coachella Valley native Brian Serven stepped to the plate for the first time in an MLB game Wednesday in Denver, against the San Francisco Giants, with his parents, brother, sister and some friends in attendance at Coors Field.
On the first pitch he saw, an 86-mph changeup from Logan Webb, Serven swung, made contact and sent the ball up into the bleachers on a foul ball. As fate would have it, the ball landed about 10 feet from where the Servens were seated and the fan who caught the ball offered the memento to the family.
"I mean, we're watching his first pitch and he hits a foul ball right at us," said Jim Serven, Brian's dad. "It could have gone anywhere."
It was that kind of day for the family, as Brian Serven started at catcher, after being called up from Colorado's Triple A affiliate, the Albuquerque Isotopes, on Tuesday. With Serven in the lineup, wearing No. 6, the Rockies ended a 12-game losing streak to the Giants with a 5-3 win in front of 26,713 fans.
With his debut in the books, Brian Serven joins Angels outfielder Taylor Ward as the only active MLB players from the valley.
"It's rather emotional," Jim Serven said. "Just the fruition of years and years of doing this. We find ourselves being a little more emotional than we thought we'd be. Not too many things in life make you feel that kind of emotion."
Serven, 27, starred at Palm Desert High School and then Arizona State before he was drafted by the Rockies in the fifth round in 2016. He worked his way through the minor league ranks and spent all of last season and this season playing catcher for the Isotopes.
Last season, while playing for the Isotopes, Serven hit a home run off a rehabbing Clayton Kershaw during a brief minor league stint for the Dodgers all-star. In 77 at-bats so far this season, Serven has a .273 average with five home runs, 12 RBIs and an OBS of .912.
With Serven promoted to the majors, catcher Dom Nunez was sent down to the minors. Elias Diaz, the only other catcher on the Colorado roster, started Tuesday evening against the Giants and therefore did not play the following afternoon game, which is not uncommon in MLB.
Serven was greeted in the dugout before the game with a big hug by Rockies manager Bud Black after he warmed up starting left-handed pitcher Kyle Freeland in the bullpen. The first pitch Serven received in the game was a ball above the strike zone.
In that first at-bat, with the count 2-2, Serven grounded out to the second baseman. In his second at-bat, Serven popped out to right field.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, the Giants led by a run until Connor Joe replaced Serven at the plate, singled and was brought home off an RBI single from Yonathan Daza. C.J. Cron then crushed an 81-mph Jose Alvarado changeup 454 feet over the left field wall to give the Rockies a 5-3 lead that held.
The Serven family members who made the trip from California to watch the game included Serven's parents, Jim and Laura, along with his sister, Kristina, and brother, Jonathan, who played baseball at Long Beach State. They were interviewed on the Rockies TV broadcast in the top of the fifth inning.
“It’s a dream come true," Laura Serven told broadcaster Marc Stout. "It’s a day we have been waiting for. I just want to enjoy every minute.”
Laura Serven recalled receiving the phone call earlier this week that her son was being called up to the major leagues.
“We were all just crying," Laura Serven said. "It was amazing. It was absolutely amazing. It still feels like a dream even though I am sitting here in front of everybody watching my son play.”
Jim Serven, who also is head softball coach at Palm Desert High, spoke about how his son became a catcher.
“When he was about 5, that’s what he wanted to do," Jim Serven said. "He wanted to be involved in every play. Catchers are involved in everything. We started working at it. He’s been a catcher since he was 5 or 6. He wanted to be involved in every play, which is a start move.”
Serven's family plans to stay in Denver through the weekend to watch the Rockies play the New York Mets on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
In a moment of levity with the Serven family on the TV broadcast, with a tight game playing out in the background, Kristina Serven was told that there was a chance of snow in the forecast. Denver's forecasted high temperature on Thursday is 88 degrees, but the area is expected to see rain and snow by Friday night and Saturday.
Being from the California desert, were they ready for that?
“Not prepared at all," she said. "It’s not going to be good.”
Jim Serven spoke about the family being close with Ward's family and about how Brian Serven was an Angels and Albert Pujols fan growing up. Jim Serven mentioned how his son was able to catch a Dominican Republic game last year and when Pujols came to the plate to bat, Serven gave him a little tap on his shin guard to show respect.
“It was a big moment for him," Jim Serven said.
Wednesday was an even bigger moment. The family said that they did not speak to Brian before the game to allow him to focus on and prepare for his big moment. Jim Serven added that several of Brian's friends from high school have trekked to Denver to watch him play and that more are headed there this weekend.
Stout asked Laura Serven if she offered her son any motherly advice the last time she did speak with him, after he was called up.
“I didn’t have to tell him," Laura Serven said, "but just to stay humble. Be happy and he’s a hard worker. He puts all of that on himself. He’s taught me a lot.”
Andrew John covers sports for The Desert Sun and the USA Today Network. Email him at email@example.com and find him on Twitter at @Andrew_L_John.
This article originally appeared on Palm Springs Desert Sun: Brian Serven starts at catcher, Rockies rally to beat Giants in Denver