His professional debut was in the 2012 Arizona (Rookie) League.
Over the course of his 11 professional seasons, Wynton Bernard played in 1,015 games around the world – with stops from Mexico to Australia, from Independent League teams to his most recent stop in Albuquerque, where he’s been playing the best baseball of his life with the Triple-A Isotopes.
And not once, the San Diego native insists, did the 31-year-old Bernard take the time to think about what that moment when he finally became a Big Leaguer would actually feel like. But he knew who’d get the first call.
“Momma B! It’s gotta be Momma B, right?!” Bernard said with a smile at Isotopes Park on Thursday afternoon.
Hopefully “Momma B” had her phone close by.
Shortly before Albuquerque’s 8-4 win over Reno on Thursday night, Bernard was pulled from the lineup and told he would be a career minor leaguer no more.
“What I saw today made this the best day of my coaching career,” Isotopes manager Warren Schaeffer told the Journal late Thursday. “What I witnessed in a locker room today, the reaction of Wynton, the reaction of his teammates, it just made … everything that you do worthwhile to see somebody like Wynton, who has been grinding in the minor leagues for 11 years, who does everything the right way … It’s something that we can all learn from.
“And to see grown men cry – men who have children – to hear that Wynton Bernard is called up and to see tears flow in a locker room by Wynton and his teammates … That’s just special, man.”
Bernard hit .325 this season in 87 games for the Isotopes with career bests in homers (17) and RBIs (74) to go with 26 steals and some of the most consistently high-level defense in center field in the PCL, where he was named the July Player of the Month.
All the numbers begged the question: What exactly did Wynton Bernard have to do to get called up?
• 10:27 a.m.: The Journal interviews John Boggs, Bernard’s San Diego-based agent.
“He’s obviously having a tremendous season and it’s just a matter of need – where they’re going to have need,” Boggs said. “And at that point in time, hopefully, he’ll get the call-up that he so richly deserves.”
• 11:30 a.m.: The Isotopes print out the day’s lineup sheets with Bernard hitting leadoff and playing center field.
• 1:10 p.m.: The Rockies start their game in Denver vs. St. Louis. Outfielder Yonathan Daza injures a shoulder in the top of the first. It is unclear how long he’ll be out.
• 4:15 p.m.: The Journal asks Bernard outside the dugout at Isotopes Park if he could take comfort knowing that if he didn’t get a Rockies call-up this season, there was a good chance another team would give him an opportunity for next year.
“Honestly, I really hope it’s with the Rockies because I’ve made a connection here,” Bernard said. “I love everybody here. … You know how baseball is, but I hope it’s with these guys.”
• 4:25 p.m.: The Journal asks Rockies Director of Player Development Chris Forbes about Bernard.
“He’s done everything he can do,” Forbes said. “… He’s done a great job on both sides of the ball, in the clubhouse. I mean, he’s a high character kid. He’s everything you want in a player.”
• 5:11 p.m.: The Isotopes announce a lineup change: Ryan Vilade replaces Bernard.
• 6:37 p.m.: First pitch between the Isotopes and Aces. Bernard isn’t in the dugout.
• 9:39 p.m.: Schaeffer confirms to the Journal the news about Bernard.
“He’s a great example for kids all around the country – for baseball players everywhere,” Schaeffer said. “If you persevere, anything can happen.”