By: Brian Frank
Spencer Horwitz recently realized a lifelong dream when he made his major-league debut – and collected a hit in his first major-league plate appearance.
The sweet swinging first baseman received the news he’d been called up to the Blue Jays when he arrived at Sahlen Field for a game against the Syracuse Mets on June 15.
“I got here for my prep to get ready for the game that day and Matt Hague, our hitting coach, called me into the office so we could go over some video,” Horwitz said in a recent interview with The Herd Chronicles. “He said – ‘Hey, your video looks good and you’re going to go show it in the big leagues.’ I was just like – wow!”
Horwitz has been one of the Herd's top hitters this season. Photo Credit: Brian Frank, The Herd Chronicles
There was little time for Horwitz, slashing .300/.421/.405 at the time, to celebrate his call up because the Blue Jays were about to begin a three-game weekend series in Arlington, Texas, against the Texas Rangers.
“They told me around 1:30 and my flight left around 4:00,” he said. “So I had to get moving pretty quick.”
Upon arriving at Globe Life Stadium, Horwitz took infield at first base under the watchful eye of Blue Jays bench coach Don Mattingly.
“I worked with Coach Mattingly in spring training a little bit,” Horwitz said. “Right away he congratulated me on getting called up and then it was right to work with him at first base.”
Horwitz made his debut in the series finale, when he was in the starting lineup as the designated hitter.
His first major-league at-bat came in the second inning against Rangers right-hander Jon Gray.
“I was good all day and when I was standing on deck I looked around and I saw all those people and saw my family up there going crazy and that was the first time it really hit me,” he remembered. “I was like, whoa, this is special.”
“Then, first at-bat, the first pitch was luckily a ball – a pretty easy take. Once I got that ball under my belt, I was like okay, we’re playing it. Then the next pitch I got a fastball in the zone.”
He ripped the ball into right field for his first major-league hit. As he reached first base, the once-in-a-lifetime moment sank in even more.
“It was like an out of body experience,” he recalled. “It was a special moment that I won’t forget. Budz (first base coach Mark Budzinski) gave me some encouraging words at first and then it was time to run the bases. But yeah, it was an unbelievable moment.”
Horwitz eventually came around to score his first big-league run on a Whit Merrifield RBI single. In his next at-bat, he collected his first major-league RBI, when his ground out to first base brought home Daulton Varsho. He also collected a pair of walks in the game.
The day was even more special for the 25-year-old Maryland native because his whole family was there to experience it with him and it came on Father's Day.
“The whole family was there – dad, mom, brother, some cousins, and some friends from college,” he smiled. “I actually gave my dad the Father’s Day hat. I wasn’t sure what to get him for Father’s Day but that weekend turned into a pretty special weekend.”
And what was his biggest takeaway from his first stint in the big leagues?
“Just that the work never stops,” he said. “You always dream about getting to the big leagues and then you get there and it’s like okay, we’ve got to keep working to stay here. That’s what I took away from it.”
This is the second installment of Conversations with the Herd with Spencer Horwitz. To read the first, click here.