Dusty Brown’s Long Road to Make His Mark
|10.04.09 at 4:06 am ET|
Dusty Brown was a 35th round draft pick out of Yavapai Junior College (Curt Schilling’s alma mater) in 2000. The Red Sox made Yavapai’s catcher/closer a draft-and-follow, and signed him in 2001, when he made his pro debut in the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League, on the same team on which Manny Delcarmen started his pro career.
Brown showed early promise in his pro career, but in part due to a succession of injuries, his progress was up-and-down, and his movement up the ladder was thus deliberate. He saw one Sox prospect after another zoom past him on the way to the majors, playing with such talents as Delcarmen, Brandon Moss, Hanley Ramirez, Jon Lester, Dustin Pedroia and Jonathan Papelbon as they marched towards the majors.
There were times of frustration. But nine years into his career as a member of the Red Sox, Brown – who had batted just once since making his big-league debut as a defensive replacement this year – ensured achieved a milestone at the major-league level.
In the bottom of the eighth inning of the Red Sox’ 11-6 win over the Indians on Saturday, Brown crushed a changeup from Indians reliever Mike Gosling. The ball sailed over the Wall and crashed in the last row of the Monster Seats for the 27-year-old’s first career hit and first career homer. The Fenway crowd of 37,562 chanted the catcher’s name – Dus-ty, Dus-ty, Dus-ty – until his teammates pushed him out of the dugout to accept a curtain call.
“It’s unbelievable, man,” said Brown. “Not many guys can say that: at Fenway Park, to get a curtain call from the fans, there’s nothing like it. I’ll remember it forever.”
It has been an unforgettable string of days for Brown, who on Wednesday night pitched an inning in Boston’s blowout loss to the Blue Jays. Though Brown said that the homer was hands-down the cooler moment, he has embraced his week of firsts.
“I’ve been hearing people outside the stadium talking about me pitching, and then to have tonight, get in there when I wasn’t really expecting to play, get my first hit and have it be a home run, a curtain call, it’s good stuff,” he said.
It took time for Brown to have his moment. In all likelihood, he will be the last Red Sox player drafted under former G.M. Dan Duquette to make his major-league debut with the Sox.
Brown’s minor-league career demanded a significant degree of patience. On Saturday, his persistence paid off, as he truly entered the company of his once and future teammates.
“So many guys blew right by me, but some guys have different paths to the big leagues than others,” said Brown. “It’s been weird being in the same organization for so long and watching all these other guys develop into what they are now, knowing that at one time I was right there with them. They’d keep going; I had a couple setbacks. Now that we’re finally here, all together, it’s great.”
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