Rockies OF Wynton Bernard realizes lifelong goal: “Am I dreaming?”


Every night of his 11-year minor league career, Wynton Bernard would say a prayer that one day he’d be able to call himself a Major League baseball player.

That his toiling in the minor leagues would be worth it, and that his detours, in Australia, Mexico and Venezuela, would eventually be rewarded.

On Thursday, as Bernard went through his typical pregame preparations at Triple-A Albuquerque, Isotopes manager Warren Schaeffer called a team meeting. Bernard, who was trying to sneak in his pre-game nap, was accustomed to hundreds of these types of meetings in his career. Oftentimes the news was a sobering injury to a teammate.

This wasn’t one of those times.

“(Schaeffer) goes, ‘After eleven, hard minor league seasons, Wynton Bernard’s going to the Show,’” Bernard, his voice rising, recounted a day later inside the Rockies’ clubhouse.

“I was like, just shaking, just dreaming,” Bernard said. “The emotions, it’s indescribable.”

Indescribable, perhaps, because Bernard momentarily blacked out.

“I guess I picked up (teammate Julian) Fernandez, and I was hitting my chest and hitting the ground,” Bernard said through his beaming, megawatt smile.

After his Triple-A teammates erupted with the news, Bernard’s first call was to his mom, Janet, or “Mama B.” Beyond some momentary technical difficulty, the two connected via FaceTime, sharing the lifelong dream together.

“My mom’s emotions, it just made me break down even more,” Bernard said. “She’s so proud of me.”

Bernard’s voice cracked as he recounted his mother’s unwavering diligence while caring for his father, Walter, who passed away in 2010. Bernard told himself he’d work just as hard as she had in pursuing his lifelong dream.

Moments after he stepped into the team clubhouse, some four hours prior to Friday’s game, Rockies legend Vinny Castilla and starting pitcher German Marquez leapt up from their seats to greet and congratulate him. The 31-year-old who’d lit up the minor leagues so far this season was indoctrinated.

“These are the good ones,” said Rockies manager Bud Black. “I mean they’re all good in a lot of different ways. But this one’s special just because of the person and the perseverance.”

After little sleep and a Friday morning flight to Denver, Bernard arrived in a self-described daze.

Among his first stops after arriving at Coors Field on Friday?

“I told myself I wanted to go up to home plate and just see how it felt first,” Bernard said. “There’s no way to describe it. I felt like I belong.”

Even as the seasons ticked away, including a stint in the Independent League only two seasons ago, Bernard’s optimism never wavered. Despite being described as “overly positive,” Bernard wouldn’t concede even when he hit his second decade in the minors.

His emotions came to a head Friday when asked whether any of his current or former teammates had told him he was an inspiration to them.

With tears streaming down his face, Bernard admitted he’d heard that.

“It’s deep,” he said before composing himself. “There’s a lot of stuff behind it.”


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