Sometimes the things that you truly want to do in life take a while to accomplish. Texas Rangers starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo knows all about that.
Professional baseball players have little control over where they start their careers. There’s a draft, and whichever team chooses you, that’s where you go. It usually takes six years of Major League service time before you can chart your own destiny in free agency.
Gallardo, who grew up in Fort Worth, would have loved nothing more than to make Globe Life Park in Arlington his home base. He said he grew up dreaming of playing there.
Right now, Gallardo and Colby Lewis are holding down the fort. That made Gallardo’s successful home debut all the more important.
But, aside from a high school showcase before he was drafted, Gallardo didn’t get the chance until Saturday night against the Houston Astros. That night, after eight Major League seasons, Gallardo truly made his first Major League start at home.
“Stepping out there for the first time, there was a lot of adrenaline and a lot of excitement,” Gallardo said after winning his first game of the season.
Gallardo didn’t exactly chart his own course to Arlington for the 2015 season. The Rangers went after the veteran right-hander, whom the Milwaukee Brewers drafted in the second round of the 2004 MLB draft out of Fort Worth’s Trimble Tech High School. The Rangers liked Gallardo enough to trade one of their highly respected prospects, infielder Luis Sardinas, along with pitcher Corey Knebel and pitcher Marcos Diplan.
With that, Gallardo came home — for one year at least. His contract expires after this season. He can finally use his home at Eagle Mountain Lake during the regular season, as opposed to just the offseason. Despite playing in Milwaukee for eight seasons, he always made his home in Dallas-Fort Worth, keeping him close to an expansive group of relatives and friends, most of which were at the Ballpark on Saturday night.
That gave the game a little extra juice as Gallardo and the rest of his teammates took the field to open the game. He said he wasn’t nervous, just anxious. After all he had been waiting practically his entire life for that moment, the chance to wear a Rangers uniform and pitch in a home game.
Gallardo said that he had to remind himself that it was just a game.
“Yeah, my family was here,” Gallardo said. “So were some friends that I grew up with and played [baseball] with in the summer. I tried not to really listen to them too much.
“Before the game I gave them a little wave. It shows the support I’ve had throughout my career, and for them to be here it means a lot.”
Along with family, graduates from Trimble Tech High School showed up for the contest, many of which Gallardo has certainly never met. It’s easy to see why they’re proud. According to baseballreference.com, Gallardo is only the second player from Trimble Tech to be drafted. The first was Dominic Barrett, taken in the 25th round by Boston in 1996.
The Rangers brought Gallardo home to complement Yu Darvish and Derek Holland, the team’s top two starters. But Darvish is out for the season after Tommy John surgery, and Holland will miss the next two months after straining his shoulder.
Right now Gallardo, along with Colby Lewis, are holding down the fort. That made Gallardo’s successful home debut all the more important. Even though he went less than six innings, he only gave up two runs and set the Rangers up for a victory.
It was an evening more than 20 years in the making, a cherished memory that Gallardo can draw from during what could be another difficult Rangers season. But at least he’s home.
“I enjoyed every second of it,” he said.