Summer 2024

Colorado Rockies' Wynton Bernard glorifies God in MLB debut after 11 years in minor leagues

Wynton Bernard of the Colorado Rockies had a weekend he’ll never forget.

On Friday, Bernard finally made his MLB debut after toiling for 11 seasons in the minor leagues. Not only that, but he also singled, stole second base and then scored as he helped propel the Rockies to a 5-3 victory against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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Bernard returned to the lineup on Sunday and recorded an RBI in a 7-4 loss to Arizona.

Much of Friday’s postgame attention turned to Bernard, 31, whose incredible story captured the attention of baseball fans everywhere.

“It’s everything I dreamt of,” Bernard told AT&T SportsNet on the field after the win. “I was in the outfield just now in the ninth inning like, ‘Is this a dream or is it real?’ And it’s real. It just feels amazing. … It’s such a big deal and I’m so blessed to be here. Like I said, glory to God. An amazing experience.”

Bernard’s long, hard path to the major leagues began when his name was called in the 35th round of the 2012 draft by the San Diego Padres out of Niagara University (near Buffalo, N.Y.). He spent three professional seasons with San Diego’s farm system and later represented the Tigers, Giants and Cubs across more than 10 seasons.

Bernard found steadfast support through his decade in the minors in his mother, Janet, and his brothers, Walter and Wayne.

“My brothers, I looked up to them so much. They’re such good role models,” Bernard told AT&T SportsNet. “My mother as well. I wish my father was here, but I know he’s looking down on me today.”

Bernard’s father, the man who taught him the game, passed away shortly after suffering a stroke in Wynton’s sophomore season of college. Meanwhile, his mother and brothers stuck close by him as Bernard pursued his major-league dream. Finally, more than a decade after he was drafted, Bernard received a call on Thursday that he would be in the Rockies’ starting lineup the following night.

Bernard’s next call after the incredible news was to his mother.

Bernard also found time before the game on Twitter to give God the glory and reference the Bible verse Isaiah 60:22. He also mentions James 1:2-4 in his Instagram bio and Jeremiah 29:11 in his Twitter bio.

“I think my faith definitely kept me through (the hard times in the minor leagues),” Bernard told reporters before the game.

When asked a little later about what it would mean to know his mom would be able to see him play in-person in the major leagues, Bernard was able to reflect on the example she’s been for him.

“Before [my dad] passed away, he was bedridden. He couldn’t do anything for himself. To see how hard she worked, that inspires me,” Bernard said. “So when things get hard for me, I’m like, ‘If mom can do it, I know I can do it.’

“So to have that phone conversation with her and to see her on FaceTime and to see those reactions, it was incredible. That’s a special bond. I’d do anything for my mom and I know she’d do anything for me.”

In an interview with AT&T SportsNet during the game, Janet said getting the call from her son was so special, especially because he had never shared with her how much her caretaking of his father had inspired him.

“That was such a hard time in my life, and it was hard for Wynton,” she said. “I did everything I could to keep my husband here, but God felt that there was another plan for him. And so when he passed in my arms, I knew that he was going to a better place and that he would be healed.”

As she spoke, her son made a nice running catch in center field. The crowd cheered loudly, just as it did earlier when he stepped into a major league batter’s box for the first time. No matter how long he stays, he’d made it to the big leagues.

The Rockies have Monday off as they travel to St. Louis to take on the Cardinals in a three-game series. With a record of 51-66, Colorado is 13.5 games back in the National League wild-card race.

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