Sports and especially baseball have been known to provide some improbable stories.
You won’t find a more unlikely story than that of Trevor Richards, a 24-year-old right-hander for the Miami Marlins who just 15 months ago wasn’t on the radar as a potential major league pitcher. Instead, he was selling trinkets in the MillerCoors gift shop that’s two miles away from Miller Park in Milwaukee.
On Friday night, Richards returned to Milwaukee. Only this time, his office was the Miller Park pitching mound as he made the fourth start of his burgeoning MLB career.
The results were nothing close to what Richards was hoping for. In 3.2 innings, he allowed five runs on five hits and five walks. In his final frame, he allowed back-to-back home runs to Ryan Braun and Travis Shaw as Milwaukee ran away with an 8-0 victory. But in many ways the results weren’t as important as the journey Richards has embarked upon since his days pitching in college.
According to ESPN’s Darren Rovell, Richards went undrafted out of Drury University in Missouri. From there, he moved on to playing independent ball with the Gateway Grizzlies. During that time, he worked numerous odd jobs before moving to Milwaukee to live with his girlfriend and taking the job at MillerCoors.
At each stop, Richards hoped for one more chance to showcase his pitching ability. The Marlins finally afforded him that opportunity in 2016. When training camp opened in 2017, Richards headed to Florida and earned the opportunity to pitch in Miami’s minor league system. Since then it’s been nowhere but up for Richards.
When Richards left in February 2017, his colleagues couldn’t have dreamed that the next time they would see him would be right before he pitched at Miller Park against the Brewers. But Richards rose quickly through the minors. With a 2.53 ERA and a 12-11 record in high-A Jupiter and Double-A Jacksonville, he was named Marlins Pitcher of the Year.
The offseason took him back to his home town of Aviston, where he was a substitute teacher for kindergarten through eighth grade. “The kids knew who I was,” Richards, 24, said. “The day I left, we had a baseball party.”
Some might try to undermine Richards’ success because it’s come with a Marlins team that’s rebuilding and lacks major league depth at nearly every position. While that may have cracked the door open, Richards’ passion and perseverance led him through it. He’s turned a dream many would have squashed into a reality that should inspire others to continue scratching and clawing and fighting to achieve their goals.
However it came. Wherever it leads. That’s pretty inspiring.
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