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Cubs’ Bote beats the odds and wins over fans

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David Bote

David Bote

MLB photo

MLB photo

David Bote

By Neal Klepitsch, Staff Writer

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On a cool September night sitting in the upper deck of Wrigley Field the subtle calls of Cubs fans yelling “where’s Bote” or “Bote-Bote-Bote” can be heard when the Cubs trail late in a game. A gasp of hope from fans when the Cubs need runs. Cubs fans unlikely hero: 25-year-old rookie David Bote who was a fan himself at Wrigley Field for Game 5 of the 2016 World Series sitting on the third base line for the first World Series win the Friendly Confines since 1945. Bote in his rookie major league season has surpassed expectations and found his way into the hearts of fans at the corner of Clark and Addison.

Bote was drafted in 2012 in the late 18th round of the draft, 554th overall out of Neosho Community College in Kansas, came up to the majors for the first time in April of 2018 and has been back and forth between Chicago and Triple-A Iowa five times according to MLB.com. With star 3rd baseman Kris Bryant having an extended stint on the disabled list, Bote finally received a chance to stay on the major league roster permanently. Bote, a minor league journeyman, has taken advantage of his opportunity, posting an .230 batting average with 27 RBI’s and 6 home runs.

One of those home runs put Bote in the legend of Cubs lore. On Sunday August 13th the Cubs played the rubber match of a 3-game set with the Washington Nationals in primetime of ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. The Nationals Max Scherzer and Cubs recently acquired Jason Hamels engaged in a pitchers’ duel in which Scherzer gained the upper hand before exiting the game in the 7th inning with a one run lead with the Nats adding two runs in the ninth. The game appeared to be out of reach with some of the Wrigley faithful heading for the exits to beat the post-game mass exodus of Wrigley Field. The fans who stayed in their seats will never forget and probably never see again what happened next. With one out, Ben Zobrist singled and Albert Almora Jr. was hit by a pitch and then with two outs the Cubs managed to load the bases.

With pitcher Justin Wilson due up Cubs Manager Joe Maddon called upon the rookie David Bote to pinch hit and extend the game. Going down in the count 1-2 after a controversial strike call, Bote did not extend the game. He ended it. With a swift swing of the bat Bote hit a deep line drive to center field hitting the top of the batter’s eye in the bleachers of Wrigley Field: An Ultimate Grand Slam.

Just the 27th in all of baseball history according to MLB.com. The sixth by a pinch hitter and only the third when a team was down to its final out. Lifelong Cubs fan Evan Klepitsch described the ending of Bote’s slam as “an unbelievable moment in Cubs history-it was like watching magic.”.

Bote has kept on delivering that magic. On August 24th Bote hit another walk off home run in the 10th inning to beat the Cincinnati Reds 3-2 as well as delivering several key hits throughout this year’s playoff push.

This is obviously not the first time a player has delivered in key situations repeatedly, however Bote’s path to the Majors was truly a journey. According to the Chicago Sun-Times Bote considered quitting baseball twice as his family grew with 2 young children and average minor league statistics. Bote’s wife Rachael being the reason why he did not walk away from baseball. Bote told the Chicago Tribune: “If I didn’t have my wife (Rachel), I probably would have been out of baseball. She said, ‘we didn’t play in short-season (Boise) for two years and Kane County for three seasons to stop now.’She’s my biggest supporter. She takes care of the kids when I’m on the road. It’s an unbelievable blessing. People say ‘would you be further (in your career) if you weren’t married?’ I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t married with the kids.”

As the Sun Times reported, on the night of his ultimate grand slam Bote’s wife turned on the television to check on the progress of the game to find her husband at bat in the bottom of ninth and just had enough time to get to the balcony of their apartment that just happens to look over the outfield of Wrigley Field to witness her husband’s walk-off.

Over the years Cubs fans have seemed to connect themselves with feel good stories of underdogs whether it was the way backup catcher David Ross was welcomed during the 2015 and 2016 seasons or the way Anthony Rizzo was embraced since his Major League debut in 2012 after beating cancer during his minor league career and the way fans contribute to charitable endeavors that Rizzo has created since. It is no surprise that Cubs fans would find room in their hearts for a player who so many have overlooked and was willing to give up a baseball career for his wife and children.

David Bote’s future with the Cubs is promising, however postseason roster cuts are unpredictable as rosters shrink to a limit of 25 players. However, Bote’s numbers and clutch performances speak for themselves as someone who most teams would want in high stakes games and the Cubs seem to agree.

Cubs Manager Joe Maddon said of Bote in the Chicago Tribune: “You watch his tools: bat speed, right-center, ground balls. You listen to your minor-league guys and then you talk to him. He’s got his head screwed on properly. He could be really good. He’s definitely the kind of guy who can slip through the cracks, one of those guys the gaggle of scouts wasn’t talking about.’’

David Bote has clearly beaten the odds in the minor leagues and has provided as spark of magic that is needed to win in baseball, the kind of magic it takes to play deep into October.

 

 

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Cubs’ Bote beats the odds and wins over fans