His parents, Greg, a retired Middletown police chief, and Donna Schwarber, their three daughters, and other relatives and friends were there Tuesday night in Wrigley Field and the party grew to more than 30 Wednesday night in Cleveland. Several of them were wearing Cubs jerseys with SCHWARBER stitched against the back, and some even were wearing T-shirts from the Smokies, the Cubs’ Double-A affiliate where Schwarber played before he was promoted.
With each at-bat, each hit, the group, sitting in the second section behind home plate, cheered louder.
On Monday night, Schwarber, 22, a 2011 MHS graduate, was notified by the Cubs he was promoted to the major leagues. He wasn’t expected to play, or at least catch, Tuesday night, but when the starting catcher, Miguel Montero, was ejected in the eighth inning, manager Joe Maddon summoned Schwarber.
He saw three pitches in his first at-bat, all strikes, the last one looking.
Welcome to the majors, kid.
“It was great to get him involved,” Maddon said in the visitors’ dugout Wednesday night before the game. “He saw three pitches and came back to the dugout and that’s OK. He got rid of a lot of firsts and then he’ll get more comfortable more quickly. He’s going to help us out a lot. He’s a wonderful young man with an exceptional work ethic.”
Prior to the game, while some of his teammates played video games in the clubhouse, Schwarber met with the coaching staff at a small table. He’s a player who wants to get better.
“I don’t ever want to stop learning,” he said. “I always want to be a student of the game. Whatever I’m trying to, I take it seriously. I want to get better at every aspect of the game.”
His stay in the majors won’t be long, regardless of his performance. The Cubs said Schwarber will play six games, then return to the farm system, this time in Class AAA. Even with Montero suffering from a stiff back, Maddon said Schwarber won’t stay with the Cubs after Sunday’s game in Minnesota.
Few could have seen this much success this fast from Schwarber.
He was the No. 4 overall pick out of Indiana University by the Cubs last June. He received a $3.125 million signing bonus, and since then, has steadily climbed. Some players spend their entire careers in the minors. Schwarber was there for one year.
Greg Schwarber knows six games don’t make a professional baseball career.
“He hasn’t made it,” his father said. “He has a long way to go.”