When he’s not playing against the Brewers or Cubs, Kenosha is rooting for Gavin Lux!
So many of us have that moment as a kid – while playing in the backyard, you crack the ball with your wiffle bat, it flies high and far and you can hear the crowd roar, you can hear the announcer cry out, “It’s up, it’s up, it’s outta here! Gone!” The crowd gets even louder as you trot the bases around your yard, waving your hat. For Gavin Lux, he is now living this dream as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
For most of the people in the stands and on the field at Dodger Stadium on Monday, September 2nd, it was just another ordinary baseball game – one of the 81 the Dodgers will play at home in the 2019 season (not including playoffs). But for Gavin Lux, it was a very special night. It was Lux’s Major League Baseball debut. And like many games throughout his career in baseball, Lux didn’t fail to impress the fans in attendance that night.
“Every kid’s dream is to get that call to play baseball,” Lux said before the game, according to Fox Sports. “For me, it was a surreal moment. A lot of people sacrificed a lot to help me get to this point. I called up my parents and they started crying, making me emotional.”
When Lux was introduced to the Dodger Stadium crowd for the first time, the fans gave him a cheerful welcome. Lux was drafted 20th overall in 2016, so the diehard fans were anxious to see this young prospect in the blue and whites of Dodger country. The Dodgers were running away at the top of the National League West, but still decided to add the 21-year-old to the 40-man roster and start him at second base as one of the club’s September additions.
Lux took the plate for the first time in the second inning and was no doubtedly more nervous than he has ever been in his life. The Dodgers had a solid first inning, scoring ywo runs, which led to Lux (eighth on the roster) leading off the 2nd. Peter Lambert was on the mound for the Colorado Rockies. Lambert was fresh in the MLB as well, making his own debut this past June. Lambert had a rough first inning, giving out a home run, two singles, and hit a batter, but the young pitcher was determined to start fresh in the 2nd inning when he faced Lux.
Lux shook off his nerves and took the first chance he was given – a 93-mph fastball – and nailed a single to center field on the first pitch of his first at-bat.
“I was nervous,” Lux said after the game. “After the first ground ball and first at bat, it was a weight off my shoulders. I saw a video of my first hit and my dad started crying. I thought he was a tough guy!”
Lux’s lead-off single in the second inning rallied the team to continue their hot streak, scoring four more runs in that inning. Lux was even better in his second at-bat when he led off the third inning, working a 3-2 count against pitcher Yency Almonte before ripping a double to deep right-center.
Los Angeles Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts was impressed with the rookie.
“You can just see that aura of confidence,” he said postgame. “He earned his way here and knocked the wall down.”
But deep down, Lux should not be totally surprised to be called up to the majors, the 21-year-old had been giving the sport his very best, and it showed. Between Class AA Tulsa and Class AAA Oklahoma City this season, Lux ranked fourth with a .347 batting average, in 113 combined games, he also hit 26 home runs with 76 RBI’s. He racked up a streak of 50 games reaching base and greatly improved defensively.
“Obviously I feel like I always believed in myself, but I don’t think I would have expected two years ago to play like how I am now,” Lux told journalist Kyle Glaser. “It is a little surreal. I’m just enjoying it and having fun every step of the way and taking advantage of it.”
Glowing with a successful MLB debut, Lux was given an even bigger boost of confidence a week later when he was named 2019 Minor League Baseball Player of the Year by Baseball America on September 9th. He reaffirmed this honor with his first MLB home run the following night off Tanner Scott of the Baltimore Orioles.
Gavin Lux was born in Kenosha to parents Heather and Tom Lux, Jr. Baseball is in his blood; his uncle, Augie Schmidt, is a former professional baseball player and current head coach of the Carthage College baseball team.
As a student and potential ballplayer in his first year at Indian Trail High School, Lux had simpler concerns: he just wanted to make the varsity team. He did and after a distinguished four-year career at the Kenosha high school, he was selected by the Dodgers in the first round shortly after graduation.
“I’m in shock,” Lux said after being selected in the draft. “Like I’ve said a hundred times, this has always been a dream of mine. I can’t wait to go out and start playing. It’s just a great feeling.”
Shortly after the draft announcement in 2016, Lux’s uncle and baseball mentor Augie Schmidt accurately predicted, “Somebody recognized what he’s going to be, and (in) three more years he’s going to be really special.”
By Jason Hedman
Photo: Gavin Lux is centered by proud parents Heather and Tom in Los Angeles, California. Photos by Jon Soohoo, courtesy of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
(This story originally appeared in the September 21st edition of The Smart Reader magazine)