By Michael Haag | Sports Editor
It’s been almost a week since Oakland Athletics catcher Shea Langeliers achieved his dream by cracking into the MLB. Langeliers, former Baylor baseball catcher from 2017-2019, got the call up Aug. 16 and made his debut that same night against the Texas Rangers in Arlington.
After he received the good news, Langeliers rushed to call one specific person, who was no other than former Bears head coach, Steve Rodriguez. Now a hitting coach for the University of Texas, Rodriguez didn’t hesitate to make the trip in order to watch Langeliers in his MLB debut.
Coming into the contest, Langeliers had posted .283/.366/.510 splits to go with 19 home runs as part of Oakland’s Triple-A affiliate, the Las Vegas Aviators. In his first at-bat, the 24-year old squared up the first pitch thrown to him and mashed it deep into the left field corner for a double.
First game, first at-bat, first pitch, first MLB hit.
Langeliers, drafted ninth overall by the Atlanta Braves in 2019 before being traded, didn’t stop there, as in his very next game, he hit his first major league home run, continuing the storybook start to the MLB.
“It’s been a crazy ride,” Langeliers said. “You play baseball your whole life trying to get to this moment and you just kind of have that realization that hard work paid off to get you here.”
Tyler Thomas, former Baylor baseball ace and old teammate of Langeliers dating back to high school, called the moment “something you would hear in the news.”
For both Thomas and Cody Bradford, another former Baylor pitcher and teammate of Langeliers, it was no surprise to see an MLB birth by Langeliers. Thomas and Bradford echoed the fact that it “was only a matter of time” before he got his shot.
“We all knew how good Shea was, especially coming out of college, he was unbelievable,” Bradford said. “It was just a matter of time until they gave him a chance and we knew he was going to rock it as soon as he got up there.”
As the three former Bears reflected on Langeliers’ moment, one theme was brought up consistently among the bunch. To them, the most joy they’ve ever had on a diamond came from their days at Baylor Ballpark.
“Playing at Baylor was the most fun I’ve had playing baseball for sure,” Langeliers said. “The camaraderie to be had there, the team, the coaching staff was just — we had a great support staff. Everybody was close friends on that team. Everything that was put together there, it just clicked.”
Bradford, who is now pitching with the Double-A affiliate for the Texas Rangers, the Frisco Roughriders, reiterated that feeling. Of all the teams across his career, nothing comes close to Baylor baseball.
“That was a team that I wish I could be a part of for the rest of my life,” Bradford said. “I had never been a part of a team that clicked that well before.”
Thomas mentioned that same fun with teammates, except his idea of fun was trash talk with Langeliers. The pitcher-catcher dynamic was always there, and that’s not where the chirping comes from.
It was when Langeliers stepped in the box.
Thomas recalled a time when he struck Langeliers out in high school, saying “I never let him live that down.” Then both ended up at Baylor, which allowed for a similar setting: Thomas pitching, Langeliers batting. This time went a little different.
“I came to Baylor, I pitched against him while he was hitting and — well, he hit a ball off the wall,” Thomas said. “He said ‘how about now?’”
It didn’t stop there, Thomas had a chance at redemption.
“Then I struck him out the next at-bat and I said ‘well how about now?’ And that train just continued,” Thomas said.
Amid all the banter, the two could flip the switch and get serious, which Thomas said he felt was super valuable.
“We had fun with each other, and then when it came serious time in a game, he knew how to get me locked in,” Thomas said. “He knew how to settle me down, and that’s special in a catcher.”
All on their own unique paths post-Baylor, the three athletes couldn’t stop mentioning the closeness of those 2017-2019 Bears teams. Not just on the field, but in everyday life, too. The bond shared between Bradford, Thomas and Langeliers runs a lot deeper than the dugout.
“Some of my best friends that were in my wedding as groomsmen went to Baylor,” Bradford said. “Some of my best friends that I’ll have for the rest of my life I met at Baylor on the baseball team.”
A graduation ceremony or an MLB draft hasn’t stopped Langeliers from keeping up with his former teammates. It doesn’t matter if he’s on the west coast in Oakland or across multiple oceans, Baylor baseball gave birth to multiple “lifelong friendships.”
“Those are lifelong friendships, I like to keep in touch with pretty much everybody,” Langeliers said. “It’s just a special group, we’re really close.”