SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — How long would you wait for a chance at making your dreams come true?
“I thought if you finished college and didn’t get drafted then that was the end,” Springfield Cardinals pitcher Kevin McGovern said. “Once I started to realize that there were other opportunities I had to learn and mature and grow up over those 10 years.”
Kevin McGovern’s professional baseball career started in 2012 with the London Rippers of the Canadian Frontier League. This past June, he set the American Association’s career strikeout record with 702.
“It represents all of the turmoil and the troubles that I have gone through, it puts into perspective the aspect of never giving up,” McGovern said. “I am really proud of that record and I know that my family is.”
McGovern would get two more strikeouts to bring his total to 704. He thought he was going to get a chance to raise those numbers, but at BP before his next start…
“We had a big group meeting and I had no idea what the meeting was about,” McGovern said. “Then he walked over to me and said I don’t get to do this too often, and he gave me a big hug and said the St. Louis Cardinals just purchased you.”
Purchased and sent to join the Springfield Cardinals in Wichita.
“I could just tell right away that there is the ‘Cardinal Way’. I feel like I was a part of the team immediately, I don’t feel like some outsider from Independent baseball,” McGovern said. “I feel like I am a Cardinals right away. It’s something that after 10 years of affiliated baseball, to call myself a Cardinal means a lot more.”
In his debut on June 17, McGovern pitch an inning and a third with two strikeouts. In three starts since, he’s recorded 20 Ks over 16 2/3 innings of work.
Doing it as the oldest player in the AA-Central.
“I always said this, I’ll retire the year that I get worse instead of the year that I get better,” McGovern said.
Aging like a fine wine and proving perseverance pays off.
“When I got that call a lot of people from back home blew up my phone and just said, ‘couldn’t have happened to a better guy’. When they see that it meant a lot to them, they reached out and let me know,” McGovern said. “I’m realizing it’s not just a great story for me, but it’s a great story for Indy guys.”