We missed being able to share joyous news of a first time major league call in our weekly Independent Baseball Insider by mere minutes Thursday night, but this gives us all an added reason to smile as we kick off this May weekend.
With his 30th birthday 21 months in the rear view mirror, it was no wonder Mark DiFelice had tears when he learned he was going to the major leagues for the very first time. It seems likely there may be more of the same tonight (Friday) when the National Anthem is playing at Fenway Park in Boston and DiFelice is standing across from the World Champion Red Sox in his new Milwaukee Brewers uniform.
You never know when that call is coming, but it happened Thursday for the 11-year veteran right-hander only hours before he was supposed to start for Triple-A Nashville in an attempt to improve on his 3-0 record for the young season.
"It's unbelievable," The Tennessean's Joshua Taylor heard DiFelice say. "I was talking to my father and I kinda broke down a little bit."
For now, the 6-foot-2 DiFelice is ticketed for middle innings work for the Brewers, who signed him in January of 2007 after more than a year and a half in the Atlantic League. DiFelice was a bulldog in helping Somerset, NJ win the Atlantic League championship in 2005 when he hurled two complete game victories and picked up a save in a six-day period. The onetime Western Carolina University product, who was in the Colorado farm system for his first six professional seasons, was an Atlantic League All-Star in '06 when he had a career-high 12 wins as a starter for Camden, NJ.
DiFelice had a 3.91 ERA with 28 strikeouts in 23 innings at Nashville this spring.
WALLY BACKMAN'S NORTHERN LEAGUE DEBUT A SUCCESS
The Northern League became the fourth of the eight Independent Leagues to open the 2008 season Thursday, and Wally Backman's Joliet (IL) Jackhammers played the spoiler against defending champion and homestanding Gary, IN, winning 3-0 to give the onetime major league second baseman a victorious debut in the league. Backman led the South Georgia Peanuts (Albany) to the South Coast League title last season.
Perennial power Fargo, ND and the Kansas City (KS) T-Bones were the other opening night victors. Next up, the Frontier League opens Wednesday, followed within 48 hours by the Can-Am, Golden and Continental Leagues.