In the post-game interview Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field, while Chicago Cubs first baseman Jared Young discussed his first career Major League Baseball hit, the 27-year-old Prince George native was asked about the ball he clobbered for a double in the eighth inning of the Cubs’ 2-1 win over the Colorado Rockies.
He told reporters it was safely stored away in his locker in the Cubs’ clubhouse.
For Young, that ball is now one of his most cherished possessions. It's a symbol of the blood, sweat and tears he's encountered in a monumental climb to the top of the baseball world that's taken him more than two decades to accomplish. A priceless souvenir of his first major league game, played on one of most iconic fields in baseball in front of the people he loves most from Prince George.
“I don’t know if it will ever sink in but it was awesome, I had a really good time and it was great to spend it with my friends and family in the stands, it’s something I’ll never forget,” said Young, just before stepping out onto the field for batting practice Tuesday in Miami.
“It couldn’t have happened in a better way, having my friends and family there at Wrigley and getting to play first base and getting a hit in my fourth at-bat, it was pretty special. I remember getting to second base and being relieved and excited. It was awesome.”
Young got the word he’d been called up to the Cubs from their triple-A affiliate in Iowa as an injury replacement to join the team in New York for a game against the Mets. As it turned out, his flight was delayed and he didn’t get to the ballpark until the fifth inning.
“That was probably the most rushed I’ve ever been in my life with some pretty heavy thoughts to think about while I was going there, it was pretty crazy,” said Young. “I had about an hour and 30 minutes to get my stuffed packed and get to the airport and get on the plane and I was headed to New York. I was only there for about three hours but it was really intense and really fun.”
The Cubs flew first-class back to Chicago right after Wednesday’s game and had a day off before their three-game series against the Rockies. The storybook saga reached a crescendo on Friday when Young delivered his first major league hit, connecting on a 95-mile-per-hour fastball, the second pitch Rockies reliever Justin Lawrence threw at him for a two-out double to right field.
Young also played well defensively at first base, making it look effortless while he scooped up two throws that skipped off the dirt, to keep a possible no-hitter alive for Cubs starting pitcher Marcus Stroman. As it turned out, Stroman gave up just three hits through seven innings to earn the win. The Chicago fans in the crowd of 31,775 let Young know they appreciated his efforts to give their beloved Cubbies their 62nd win of the season.
“It was loud and exciting, definitely a lot of adrenaline, all the things you dream about when you’re growing up,” said Young.
“Once you get out there and once you start playing, you realize it’s the same game. It’s a very different scenario and different people out there, but it’s the same game and I’ve been doing it for a long time.
“Up there it’s all about winning and helping the team get those ‘Ws’ so anything you can do to help is the only thing on your mind. My job is to show I belong here and can stay here for the rest of my career.”
Young was the Cubs’ designated hitter in Saturday’s game, a 3-1 loss to the Rockies, and earned his second major league hit in the sixth inning – a line-drive double to centre field. He entered Sunday’s game as a pinch hitter with two out in the sixth and fought off a 3-2 count to reach base on a walk. The Cubs were trailing 4-3 in the ninth with one out when Young got up to bat again. He fought off a couple foul balls and worked another 3-2 count but was called out on a pitch that video replay confirmed was clearly outside the strike zone.
The Cubs are now in Miami for a four-game series this week against the Marlins. Young did not play on Monday but started today’s game, batting seventh in the order in the designated hitter slot. He went 1-for-4 at the plate, hitting a single in the top of the seventh, then stole his first MLB base off Marlins reliever Huascar Brazoban. The Cubs went to a 2-1 victory. Wednesday's game (4 p.m. PT) will be streamed live at www.streameast.xyz.
Young is the not only the first major leaguer from Prince George but also the city’s first professional baseball player. Born on July 9, 1995, he and his parents Randy and Dana brought him to the ballpark from the day he was born to watch his older brother Tanner play the game.
“Jared has never had a summer his entire life when he wasn’t in a ballpark,” said Dana Young. “He’s always had a bat in his hand and for all of us to be there for his MLB debut, his lifelong dream happened last weekend.
“It was the most amazing thing to be a part of. Everybody who has watched and supported him over the years, was watching. Even the people who couldn’t be there, like my mom (Janet Giles) and Lyle (Jared’s grandfather), they were watching and cheering. I think half of Prince George was watching and cheering.”
The Young entourage traveled on the red-eye flight to Chicago and arrived early in the morning for Friday’s game. The Cubs set them up with seats behind home plate and they bought a couple extra tickets near first base so they could get a better view of Jared when he was on the field.
“He played amazing all weekend, he’s where he belongs” said Dana. “There was so much emotion, it was just magical.”
Growing up in Prince George, Young also excelled in hockey and was one of the goalies for the Farr Fabricating Tier 1 bantam Cougars in 2008-09. Some of his best buds and former teammates from P.G. – Riley Hawes, Garrett Hill, Jordan Low, Jake LeBrun, Tanner Kinsley, Nick Headrick and Chase Witala – were there in Chicago for the weekend series, and they joined family members on the field at Wrigley after the game. Jared’s first hug went to his 33-year-old brother Tanner, whom he hadn’t seen in nearly two years. Tanner and his fiancée Kat followed the Cubs to Miami.
Young was drafted by the Cubs in 2017 as a student at Old Dominion in Virginia and has climbed the ladder throughout his minor league career, advancing to every level in the organization. His improbable example has made it real for every kid in northern British Columbia who picks up a ball glove that they could one day follow his footsteps to the big leagues.
“If you play hard enough and you work hard enough and you’re good enough and you get the opportunity to keep playing, you can go anywhere,” he said. “You have dreams for a reason and they’re not going to happen if you don’t work hard and takes some chances, but it is possible.”