It is extremely rare for a professional in any sport to make his debut after the age of 30 but that is exactly what Austin Bibens-Dirkx has done with the Texas Rangers.
It was May 7, 2017 when Bibens-Dirkx got the call to report to Major Leagues. 10 days later, on May 17, he made his Major League debut at home against the Philadelphia Phillies, pitching 1 inning in relief and giving up 1 run.
On May 31, Austin got his first MLB start and since then, he’s gone 3-0 with a 3.68 ERA and just this past Saturday, at Yankee Stadium, dominated over 7 innings, giving up just one run and five hits in beating the Bronx Bombers 8-1.
“It’s still kind of surreal,” Austin told ESPN. “Every outing that I have that I’m successful, it reassures me that, you can do this.”
Seven strong today for ABD! ? pic.twitter.com/NqtAIDPBas
— Texas Rangers (@Rangers) June 24, 2017
But the road to Yankee Stadium for Austin Bibens-Dirkx isn’t your typical trek to the Big Leagues.
Bibens-Dirkx is a 32 year-old rookie.
He’s waited 12 years to get his shot at playing Major League Baseball. He’s played in cities like Appleton, Wisconsin, Tacoma, Washington, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Manchester, New Hampshire.
He’s played every level of minor league baseball, and even had stints in Venezuela in 2015 and the Independent League in 2016.
During many of those winter months, he would wait tables at Applebee’s in his hometown of North Salem, Oregon, just to earn some extra cash. It’s also there that he met his future wife, Leah.
“You kind of have to get that off-season job,” said Bibens-Dirkx told the Statesman Journal. “I wasn’t a first round draft pick. In the off-season it was work and try to work out while trying to make a living.”
After signing with the Rangers in the middle of last season, Austin spent the rest of the year playing for AAA Round Rock of the Pacific Coast League.
This season, he started again with Round Rock but at age 32, after waiting twelve years and pitching over 1,500 innings of professional baseball, Austin Bibens-Dirkx finally got his shot at the Big Leagues.
“I always had it in my head that I was good enough, that I was capable of pitching at this level,” Bibens-Dirkx told the Statesman. “I had my family and friends and faith. Everything was keeping me focused and saying I could do it. Obviously, a couple baseball teams didn’t think I was capable of it.
He certainly was capable.
Before his victory at Yankee Stadium on June 24, Austin took the mound on June 11 and faced two-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer. He bested the Nationals ace by going seven innings and striking out two batters against one walk. He also retired 19 consecutive batters at one point and helped the Rangers to a 5-1 win over Washington.
Austin’s instagram page has the bible verse Psalm 37:4 listed in his bio, which reads: “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.”
No matter what happens going forward, Austin Bibens-Dirkx’s perseverance and determination to achieve his heart’s desire, is something that nobody will ever be able to take away from him.
The baseball journey continues.
Austin Bibens-Dirkx’s journey to the Major Leagues saw him play for 20 different professional clubs.
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
High Desert Mavericks
Aguilas de Zulia
Colorado Springs Sky Sox
New Hampshire Fisher Cats
Dunedin Blue Jays
Toros del Este
Tigres de Aragua
Round Rock Express