Being Called Up to the Baltimore Big Leagues
All photos by Todd Olszewski | Baltimore Orioles | MLB
There’s nothing quite like the magic of a baseball game. The loud music encouraging you to get louder, the roar of the fans, the smell of hot dogs and popcorn and the hope of catching a fly ball. Bringing America together over the love of the game. Now imagine the magic of being called up from the minor leagues to play in the MLB. We enjoyed a glass of Rabbit Hole Bourbon with Orioles pitcher Mike Baumann, talking all things baseball and how it felt to finally be able to pitch for the big birds.
Explain how it felt being called up from the minor leagues.
Mike Baumann: It was so surreal. I got the call late-night on an off day from the Triple-A manager and I wasn’t really expecting it whatsoever. I was in Norfolk, Virginia at the time, getting ready to go on a bus trip the next morning and my mom had just been in town for the week. When I got the call, the first thing I did was call her. She had just landed back home in Minnesota, and I asked her if she wanted to hop back on a flight to Baltimore. Having that moment with my mom and brother was one of the best parts of it.
That whole night I couldn’t sleep, I was trying to pack everything up. I woke up the next morning and really didn’t know what to expect. They told me to meet the team in Baltimore the next day and I drove up there with my head spinning. It’s a dream come true—it’s everything I’ve worked for. So, when that happened it made all the struggles, all the successes, everything feel worth it in that moment. It was really emotional.
Tell us about your first experience playing for the Orioles.
MB: It was such a blur and such a dream come true. Being able to pitch against some of the best players in the league, you know the guys you see on TV is an awesome experience. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
In your first game debut, you threw three shutout innings and received Player of the Game. Tell us how you were feeling after that win.
MB: It was the first game up there and I didn’t really know many of the guys, so I was just trying to keep my routine and do everything I would normally do going into a game. But once the phone rang in the bullpen and they called me to get up and start warming up, that’s when all the adrenaline kicked in. I just got in the zone and went out there. I really tried not to do too much and be myself. Just thinking to myself about going after the hitters and filling up the strike zone. Each pitch, each batter, each inning went by, and I started to feel like I was settling in more and more. And I was fortunate enough to get the win along the way and whenever the team wins that’s always great. It was my first game and first win, I couldn’t ask for more.
Next walkout song in the lineup?
MB: “Juke Box Hero” by Foreigner
It’s a tie game and you’re about to go up to the mound to pitch. Tell us what’s going through your mind as you walk out onto the field.
MB: Just to try to not do too much. I just want to attack the hitters. I want to give myself the best shot at competing and getting each out. I don’t want to give them any free bases, I don’t want to throw any non-competitive pitches, I just want to leave everything out there and go out there and give it my best.
There’s a lot I can’t control out there, so I just have to focus on what I can control and see what happens from there.
Explain to us a time you didn’t think your team would make a come back to win, but you did.
MB: I got hit around the first couple innings and we were down five runs. It was a five-nothing deficit at that moment and my coach just kept running me out there. He had faith in our lineup, faith in our defense and me that we would shut them down and keep scoring runs.
So next thing I know, I’m going back out for the fifth, sixth, seventh and even the eighth inning. So once that sixth inning came around, we started scoring some runs and we started to gain some momentum. I go back out for the seventh inning and we tie it up. So then going back out for the eighth, the adrenaline was pumping, I hadn’t gone eight innings all year, so being able to go out there after we gained the lead was intense but awesome. Then our closer came in and he shut them down and that’s probably one of our biggest comeback wins that I’ve been a part of.
After games like that, you really get the adrenaline spike, you’re still out there shaking when the game is done. You can’t even keep your hands still and you’ve still got that rush going through you. The team wins, everyone’s happy. Music is blaring, everything’s good. And that carries over into the next day and makes showing up to the field a lot easier. That’s the best part about it.