When the Houston Astros won the World Series over the Los Angeles Dodgers, they became one of the most feel-good stories in baseball. Jose Altuve, a player who was told he’d never play in the major leagues because he was too short, caught the last out. But he isn’t the only feel-good story.
The team has been on a long journey; they won for the first time in 56 years. It was a momentous occasion for one of their players too: Evan Gattis.
Gattis, a backup catcher and pinch hitter, for the Astros didn't play a huge role in the World Series. He did play well overall in the postseason, “batting .254 with a .354 OBP while hitting one home run and five RBIs,” explained the Business Insider.
It wasn’t how he played in the World Series that was significant; it was being there at all. It was a long journey to get there.
In 2013, by MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince and USA Today's Bob Nightengale, Gattis was counted among one of the top high school prospects in the country. In 2004, he was supposed to play at Texas A&M.
This went wrong for Gattis during his senior year of high school. He began abusing alcohol and marijuana, and he never showed up to Texas A&M.
Instead of attending Texas A&M, Gattis checked into a rehab facility in Canton, Texas. He was there for 30 days, and then he spent another three months in a halfway house in Arizona.
Gattis gave baseball another shot, attending Oklahoma Seminole Junior College. There he failed again, dropping out while struggling with a knee injury and a lack of interest in the game.
His father, Jo Gattis, now recalls to ABC13 how his son “looked me in the eye and he said, ‘I don’t want to talk baseball anymore, I’m done,'" quoted People.
During this period in his life, Gattis also wrestled with anxiety and depression. His parents have said they believe that stemmed from their divorce when Gattis was young. Gattis has also said he often had suicidal thoughts.
“After dropping out of school, Gattis went on a rambling journey, hopping around the country doing odd jobs. He worked as a parking valet in Texas—‘Drove some pretty sweet cars,’ he told Castrovince—worked a ski-lift operator in Colorado, then traveled back to Texas where he got a job as a janitor with his brother at a meter-reading company,” recounted the Business Insider.
Gattis hasn’t forgotten his past. His ID to get into the meter-reading building is his Twitter avatar.
Shortly after, Gattis left the janitor job and began working at a golf club as a cart boy. While there, he went back to school to get an associate degree. While pursuing the degree, he became interested in philosophy and religion.
After hopping around the country some more, Gattis met a spiritual teacher named John Wheeler. Wheeler inspired him to return to baseball.
In 2010, Gattis enrolled at University of Texas-Permian Basin. Here, he finally played on the baseball team.
“We’ve seen other athletes that have been out of baseball and try to come back and a lot of times it doesn’t work,” said Brian Reinke, Gattis’ former baseball coach at UT-Permian Basin. “I mean, this was the right place at the right time for Evan Gattis.”
In the 23rd round of the 2010 draft, he was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 23rd round of the 2010 draft. He made the regular roster in 2013. When he found out, he admits that he wept.
“He became a breakout star with the Braves for his power, hitting 43 home runs over two injury-riddled seasons. In 2015, the Astros swung a five-player deal to acquire Gattis and his powerful bat,” wrote the Insider.
The sports world was delighted for Gattis on Wednesday as he appeared emotional when the Astros won.
Gattis told Nightengale in 2013: "It was a long road, and a lot of twists and turns. But I can say I have never been happier in my whole life."
It’s safe to say, Gattis might have topped that happiness on Wednesday when he pushed through to win the whole thing. In other news, actor Lou Diamond Phillips just responded to a recent arrest.