The Houston Astros won their first World Series in franchise history on Wednesday, completing a great redemption story for a club that lost more than 100 games a season every year from 2011-2013.
But beyond the Astros own great story, which includes the fact that their first World Series title comes months after Hurricane Harvey devastated the city of Houston, for one Astros player the World Series was the end of a long and winding road to the majors.
Astros catcher Evan Gattis was one of the top high school players in the country, getting scholarship offers from baseball powerhouses like Rice University and Texas A&M, Gattis chose to go to A&M.
But he never showed up. Instead, Gattis, who was struggling with anxiety and substance abuse, checked into rehab and turned away from baseball entirely.
After leaving baseball in his past, Gattis worked a bunch of different odd jobs, including ski lift operator, janitor, and valet.
At one point, Gattis found himself begging for food on the streets of New York.
Then, Gattis headed for California in search of meaning. He found a spiritual advisor and made the decision to go back to baseball.
Evan Gattis went from a janitor to a World Series champion in a little under a decade. Incredible. pic.twitter.com/3PGypl1N0y
— Baseball Quotes (@BaseballQuotes1) November 2, 2017
In 2010, Gattis enrolled at University of Texas-Permian Basin, where his step brother Drew was a pitcher. Gattis had rededicated himself to the game, went off at Permian Basin, and was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 23rd round of the 2010 draft.
After three years in the minors, Gattis was called up to the Braves in 2013 after an injury to Brian McCann opened up a catcher spot. He hit 21 ding dongs as a 26-year-old rookie and became a staple on the Braves roster.
In 2015, Gattis signed with the Astros, where he had a career season in 2016, hitting 32 ding dongs.
Dude was a damn janitor down on his luck and now he's a World Series champ. Hats off to you Evan Gattis. pic.twitter.com/5EguxihYuK
— Céspedes Family BBQ (@CespedesBBQ) November 2, 2017
This year, Gattis became mostly a backup catcher (again behind McCann) and sometimes DH for the Astros as they won 101 games and became a powerhouse in the AL.
After one of the wildest and longest journeys to the majors, Evan Gattis can now call himself a World Champion.
It’s a damn beautiful thing.