Matt Han / Gavel Media

Catching up With Former Birdball Star Chris Shaw

Imagine dreaming of playing in the MLB your entire life, finally getting called up, and hitting a home run as your first hit in the majors. Sounds like a fantasy, right? For Chris Shaw, it was a reality.

The former Birdball star was called up to play in the majors with the San Francisco Giants on Aug. 31, 2018, fulfilling his lifelong goal of reaching the MLB. The Gavel had the opportunity to chat over the phone with Shaw last week about his transition to the pros, the West Coast, and his thoughts about playing at the most competitive level.

“It’s your entire life’s work coming to fruition in one moment, so it was great,” said Shaw in regards to being selected in the first round in 2015. "To hear my name come across the screen and to have Commissioner Manfred announce it was pretty surreal.”

Although Shaw will forever be grateful for his time at Boston College, he expressed that his decision to leave school and go to the pros was a “no-brainer,” particularly financially. Shaw explained that the MLB will pay for 100% of the rest of the player’s remaining schooling, so it was an easy decision for him from that aspect.

As baseball became his full-time profession with his move to the Minor Leagues in 2015, Shaw focused on establishing a routine to help him adjust to his new lifestyle. Because he no longer had to split his focus between school—he was enrolled in CSOM—and baseball, Shaw concentrated on slowing everything down and creating his own regimen.

“Here, [baseball] is our full responsibility and [baseball] is our sole focus,” said Shaw. “Being able to slow the game down a little bit more is nice because it can become overwhelming when you’re constantly playing and constantly having to perform and get results.”

After spending about three years in the minors—his last two in AAA ball with the Sacramento River Cats—Shaw received the call of a lifetime on Aug. 31. The San Francisco Giants had selected his contract and were calling him up to play in the majors.

“That is like getting drafted times a million,” said Shaw with elation in his voice. “It’s really hard to put into words…I’m not an overly emotional guy, but I came pretty close to breaking down. It’s just so crazy.”

Shaw played in his first major league game that night against the New York Mets at home. The electricity in the stadium was something unlike anything he had ever experienced; he could not have asked for anything more than a packed house on a Friday night in San Francisco.

Although he remembers the atmosphere in the stadium, Shaw disclosed that the overpowering excitement caused him to not recollect much, joking that it was “as close to blacking out on a field as [he’s] ever gotten.”

“You’re in the moment, but you’re not,” said Shaw. “Everyone told me when it was happening to try and soak it up and try to stay locked in on the moment, but I think that’s easier said than done.”

Shaw played in three games before finally notching his first major league hit–a home run against the Colorado Rockies on Sept. 3. After dreaming his whole life about this moment, the experience could not have been any more surreal for Shaw.

Aside from the thrill of his inaugural hit being a home-run, the knock put the Giants ahead of the Rockies 8-7 in the eighth inning of the game. The Giants ended up losing 9-8 that night, but Shaw was taken aback by how much it meant to his teammates to see him get his first hit.

“It was awesome to be able to come back to the dugout and celebrate with my teammates,” said Shaw, revealing the great chemistry on the Giants. “It’s really cool because those guys, whenever a rookie gets his first hit, it’s always really special.”

Another special experience for the East Coast native was the move across the country to California. Despite growing up in Massachusetts and attending college in Boston, Shaw has been able to find himself a home in San Francisco, taking in all the West Coast has to offer.

“There’s actually a lot of similarities with San Francisco and Boston,” said Shaw. “A lot of the people are pretty similar, the landscape’s honestly pretty similar. The only big difference I’d say is that things are a lot more expensive, so that’s something you need to take account of.”

The move out west and the move to the pros could bring along major life changes, but Shaw explained that the change has been like anything else to him; it is relative to what his life is. Since baseball is and always has been his life, he does not necessarily look at this new experience as a fantasy.

This lifestyle has become his profession, so Shaw carries himself the same way any person in any profession would.

“I take pride in my work and try to do the best I can every time I step out [on the field] just like anybody who works a nine-to-five would do,” said Shaw. “I think it’s relative in that regard to keeping a level head. At the end of the day, I’m doing what I love, and I don’t really take it for granted.”

Shaw attributed his time at BC to his humble mindset (“Oh God, yeah” were his exact words when asked), describing how the “perfect” combination of athletics and academics laid the foundation for how he goes about his life on a daily basis.

“I think that the rigorous environment that’s created both on the field and in the classroom there forces you to become the best version of yourself and the hardest-working version of yourself because so much is expected of you,” said Shaw.

He closed the conversation emphasizing how his time at BC “definitely shaped [him] into who [he] is today.”

The Gavel looks forward to hearing about Shaw’s progress throughout the offseason and seeing him back in action come time for spring training.

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