They call him, "Record-Setting," Rob.
At least that's what they should call him after he broke the Los Angeles Dodgers all-time franchise record for most RBIs by a rookie in their MLB debut on Sunday afternoon.
His name is Rob Segedin, and before Sunday, Dodger fans had probably never even heard of his name. Now, the world knows who he is after his breakout performance against the three-time World Series Champion Boston Red Sox.
The 27-year-old right-handed hitter went 2-for-3 with four RBIs, a new franchise record for a Dodger player in their Major League debut.
"It's pretty cool," Segedin said of his record performance. "I think when I get back to the hotel tonight and finally relax and take a breath, to think that with all the greats that have played for the Dodgers it's impressive that I was able to set some type of record."
Segedin's had a tornado-like twenty-four hours starting with a meeting on the mound in Oklahoma City when his minor-league manager, Bill Haselman, informed the team of some stimulating news.
"The manager called the whole team to the mound—we thought we were going to get yelled at because we've been struggling—but he said, 'I just want you all to know that Segedin's going to the Show," he said of the moment he was told he was headed to the Majors.
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In order to understand this important moment in Segedin's story, you must first learn the rollercoaster ride of a journey that has brought us to this zenith. Segedin's struggle is real, and his story will astound you.
Before his big league debut and ahead of his meteoric rise through the minor leagues this season, Segedin was ready to quit the game of baseball entirely. A game he's loved his whole life, since the day he first picked up a bat.
“On fourth of July a year ago,” Segedin said, “I was actually debating whether to retire or not."
As un-American as it sounds to retire from America's pastime on the day we celebrate its independence, you first have to follow Segedin's career path to understand his bleak circumstances prior.
Fourth of July will always have a special place in Segedin's heart. It's the day he and his wife, Robin, chose to get married. So on July, 4 2015, when the then 26-year-old perennial minor-leaguer was celebrating his anniversary, he got a call that would change his life.
It was the Yankees on the phone, and the organization was telling him that he was being demoted to Double-A Trenton because there was a hot, young, rookie on the rise.
The move was a surprise to Segedin who was batting a solid .278 with four home runs and 15 RBI go to with a .350 on-base percentage in 46 games with the team's Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre affiliate.
According to the Yankees, the move was nothing personal, just pure politics. New York's top prospect, Greg Bird, was on the rise and it was time for him to be promoted from Double-A to Triple-A. Unfortunately for Segedin, he played first base—the same position—and Rob was the odd-man out of the equation.
At 26-years-old, to get sent down to Double-A when you're on the brink of breaking into the big leagues for a younger player, is a devastating blow for the ego of an athlete. For Segedin, he began to question his future in the sport and his confidence hit an all-time low.
"I was ready to quit," he recalled. "It was my wife and mine's second anniversary. I had just been sent down from Triple-A to Double-A. I felt like I was going backwards and that the opportunity wasn't going to come."
Later that month, he asked the Yankees for his release. They did not oblige. That left the right-hander with a choice: to gut it out, or quit the game entirely.
"I was hoping to get my release, but the Yankees were adamant about not granting it," he said. "It was one of those crossroad things. Thankfully, my family and my wife stuck by my side and gave me the wisdom and knowledge to continue to play."
Segedin spent many a lonely nights on the phone with Robin. He'd rather spend more time with her, and be closer to his family. The grind of the minor leagues was gnawing away at him, but each and every time. She told him to stay the course. "Stick through it," she would say.
So Segedin did. He hit .303 with Trenton and by the end of the minor league season, he was promoted back up to Triple-A where he ended the 2015 season.
They say patience is a virtue, and for Segedin he was rewarded for his perseverance with a trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the offseason.
"There's only so many opportunities you can get, so I'm thankful the Dodgers traded for me in January," Segedin said of the trade that brought him to the organization. "I know Andrew Friedman liked me in college. We have that college connection, so he was either doing me a favor or he saw something."
Friedman and Segedin are both alumni of Tulane university, and the trade was a stepping stone for the New Jersey native as he quickly became the best player for the Dodgers' Triple-A Oklahoma City affiliate, leading the team in batting average, runs, home runs and RBI.
He was once again rewarded for his patience and performance when he was selected to the Triple-A All-Star Game—the only OKC representative. The game took place on July 12, but Segedin found out while celebrating his anniversary on the Fourth of July.
“It’s cool to see a year later all the differences this opportunity has brought us,” Segedin said. "I was excited to be an All-Star and represent the Dodgers."
It may be one of the reasons why we as Americans still love baseball after all these years. The players we see on the field in the big leagues are the ones who make it through talent, resilience and faith.
"It's been a long road," he sighed. "To go through the ups and downs and finally be here and the rewards of it, that's surreal."
That resiliency paid dividends as Segedin made his MLB debut with the Dodgers on Sunday in triumphant fashion. He was called up in-order to help solve the team's tortures with left-handed pitching.
"I've always hit well against them," Segedin said of facing southpaws. "It's one of those things where I have the confidence I can hit them regardless of who they are."
Segedin's first task was to solve the puzzle that is 2012 Cy Young Award winner, David Price. The proverbial ace of the Red Sox staff whom he had never faced before Sunday.
After a weak groundout in his first at-bat, Segedin sent a fastball off the centerfield wall with the bases loaded for a two-run double in the bottom of the fourth inning and for an encore, he singled to right field an inning later, on the same pitch, to knock in two more runs.
"I just didn’t want to make a mistake on the base paths," he joked of the first hit of his MLB career. "To get in there and help the team out on the first day and come up with a hit epitomized the excitement of everything I've worked for since the day I started playing baseball. I wanted to play in the big leagues so to get that first hit was pretty cool."
By the time Segedin exited the game for a double-switch in the sixth inning, he was a trending topic on Twitter and fans in attendance were screaming and cheering his name.
"I love you already," yelled one Dodger blue faithful.
"I've loved you, always," yelled another. That was probably his wife, Robin, 38 weeks pregnant with the couple's first child, tears in her eyes as she witnessed her husband live out his life-long dream.
"She's been down this road with me through my whole career; each step, each promotion, each demotion, injury, whatever. She had the confidence in me to go down and get through it. She convinced me not to walk out on the game," Segedin said, struggling to fight back tears. "It's exciting for me to see her excitement in me being here and contributing."
Segedin is expected to stay with the Dodgers in the immediate future where he can help off the bench and start against left-handers. Segedin spends his free time taking classes online at Indiana University where he's looking to earn a business degree.
"It's almost like a hobby of mine," he said of his studies. "I just love business, so it's something regardless of my big league career that I'm going to continue to do."
Segedin's contributions on the field will be needed as Los Angeles finds itself in the middle of a pennant race with the rival San Francisco Giants. The three-time World Series Champions over the past five seasons acquired two left-handers to go with ace Madison Bumgarner at the trade deadline—a move directly targeted at the Dodgers. Segedin saw the moves SF made and believes he can contribute to a team that has struggled against left-handed pitching this season.
"Hopefully I can help this team make the postseason and then the World Series," Segedin said. "However long I'm here for, I just want to try and find a way to help the team win.
He did on Sunday.
Tony Capobianco of the Enid News & Eagle contributed to this report.