For the first time in over 10 years, 35-year-old Wilkin Castillo got a hit in the majors, and it was a pretty sweet one at that. In the top of seventh with two outs against the Phillies, Castillo smoked an RBI double into right field that sent two runners home and gave the Marlins a lead they wouldn’t relinquish for the rest of the game.
Prior to Saturday, Castillo hadn’t played in a major league ballpark since June 20, 2009, when he was a member of the Reds. In that game against the White Sox, he came in as a pinch hitter—fun fact: Hall of Famer Jim Thome also came in to pinch-hit then—but had to leave shortly after his first and only at-bat after suffering a season-ending torn right labrum while trying to reach second base. Since then, he’s played in over 800 minor league games spread out between the Dominican Winter League, some independent league ball, the Mexican League and the Minors.
“It was something indescribable,” Castillo said through an interpreter. “It’s a lot of effort, just playing winter ball in the Dominican League, the Mexican League, the Minor Leagues for 10 years. So just being up here and see things happening, I thank God, and I thank the Marlins for giving me the opportunity to be here at the Major League level.”
The opportunity was not without nerves, though that’s to be expected. Unlike his last appearance, Castillo wasn’t just a batter that could be called up from the bench, he now also had fielding responsibilities as Miami’s catcher.
“Once I squatted behind home plate, I felt — I don’t know if it was nervous — but I felt weird,” Castillo said. “It was something out-of-body, just being there and seeing the whole scenario. But once we got the first batter, I started feeling more comfortable and ready for everything in the game.”
But Castillo’s long-awaited professional redemption isn’t the only thing there is to enjoy about this moment. There’s also the wild statistics he qualifies for because of his decade-long departure from the majors. Per Elias Sports Bureau, Castillo is the only player in MLB history with a RBI streak that’s lasted over 10 years as he hit an RBI single in his final game of 2009. He also became the first player since Roy Schalk to have a hitting streak span over a decade—Schalk had four consecutive hits from Sept. 17, 1932, to April 19, 1944.
Even cooler than those weird stats is the fact that Phillies outfielder Jay Bruce is probably one of the few people on this planet who can claim to have seen the entirety of that streak. Bruce was Castillo’s teammate on the Reds in 2009—he started in right field—and even though the current Philadelphia player has had a longer career in the majors, Castillo at least had the opportunity to temporarily forget about that discrepancy as he watched Bruce go 0-for-4 at the plate with one strikeout.