On Tuesday, Charlie Blackmon will take the field in the MLB All-Star game as a starting outfielder representing the Colorado Rockies. As the current league leader in hits and total bases, it’s easy to imagine such a talented player was seen by scouts as a surefire pro since his high school-playing days.
But for Blackmon, that was most definitely not the case.
As a story by Tyler Kepner of the New York Times details, Blackmon was a pitcher going into college, but developed tendinitis in his elbow after transferring to Georgia Tech, and was never able to get into usable pitching shape for the Yellow Jackets. When it came time for summer league and Blackmon found himself in the new surroundings of the Texas Collegiate League, he decided to lie and say he was actually both a hitter and a pitcher in an effort to see more time on the field.
“I was basically just going in there bluffing,” he said. “I told them I was a two-way player because I just wanted to play. I figured, worst-case scenario, I don’t get any hits and I still get a chance to pitch, but at least I get to go out there and take some batting practice and feel like a baseball player again.”
His fib worked out, and Blackmon got regular time in the outfield that summer. When he got back to Georgia Tech, Blackmon came in as a field player and found himself batting against the best pitcher on the team, and left his teammates with quite an impression.
“He’s the last guy I want to see,” Blackmon said. “He falls behind, 2-0, and I’m like, ‘All right, I’m just gonna let it eat.’ He throws it right down the middle, and I hit it, like, way out. So the first swing anybody saw me take, I murdered this ball.”
After that at-bat it was decided that Blackmon would be an outfielder that year and the rest is history. Behind over three million votes from fans, Blackmon will make his second career All-Star game appearance on Tuesday.
You can read the full story from the New York Times here.