Have you ever been there, and experienced that moment, when someone’s lifelong dream comes true?
It happens all the time in the world of sports – the game-saving interception, the game-winning free throw or game-clinching 3-pointer, the out-of-this-world finish by a relay team to secure a state championship – I’ve witnessed each of these special moments on many occasions.
But I can’t recall a more special moment than the one I witnessed earlier this week at the home of Caleb Marquez.
The all-state football and baseball standout, who just graduated from Blue Springs High School, invited me to his home so I could be there when he was drafted to play professional baseball.
The word was that he would be selected anywhere between the 33rd and 39th rounds of the 40-round Major League Baseball Draft.
He was there with his mother and father and other members of his tight-knit family, including a couple of huskies who had beautiful coats and hypnotizing blue eyes.
The draft was being broadcast on a laptop in the kitchen and Caleb and his father, Jeff, were manning their cell phones and MLB Draft Tracker.
When each round wrapped up, the sweat on Caleb’s brow became a bit more intense.
He had signed to play college ball at Barton Community College in Kansas, but Caleb wanted to see his dream come true – he was waiting for the call, or the text, or a message from the baseball gods saying he had been drafted.
The Marquez family had been in close contact with Drew Anderson, the regional scout of the Milwaukee Brewers, and he had all but promised the Brew Crew was going to select the youngster who could have been a Division I linebacker or H-back.
I asked Jeff if perhaps teams were shying away because they feared Caleb wanted to play football and Dad assured me that was not happening.
As the 37th and 38th rounds wrapped up, Jeff prepared his best dad speech, you know, the one that goes, “Listen son, maybe the draft wasn’t the right fit for you,” even when you know it’s all a bunch of bunk as you’re watching your son twist and turn in the cruel winds of professional sports.
Then, late in the 39th round, Caleb looked like he’d won the jackpot at a casino.
At the same moment, Jeff called out, “Caleb Marquez! Milwaukee Brewers!”
The dream had become reality. There were hugs, tears, more hugs, more tears and finally, the confirmation call from Anderson, congratulating the newest member of the Brewers organization.
And I witnessed it all firsthand. It was like watching a movie, all the while hoping it would have a Disney ending with mom and dad donning their Brewer gear for countless family photos.
I just want to thank the Marquez family for allowing me to be a small part of this celebration. I tried to be a fly on the wall, never interfering with the interaction between a mother, father and son who knew that all the hard work, the countless hours in a car spent driving to youth tournaments and early morning practice sessions had paid off in silver dollars.
It was a day I will never forget, and one that will live forever in the heart and soul of Caleb and his family.
– Bill Althaus is a sports writer and columnist for The Examiner. Reach him at email@example.com or 816-350-6333. Follow him on Twitter: @AlthausEJC