In the classic baseball movie “Bull Durham,” Crash Davis played by Kevin Costner tells the story of how he once spent “21 glorious days in the show.” The fictional character spent the rest of his 20-year career playing in the minors, including a partial season with the Durham Bulls.
At 25, Herndon native Brandon Guyer so far has played almost all of 2011 with the real Class AAA Durham Bulls, except for his own glorious day when the Tampa Bay Rays recalled him for one game in May.
“I was pretty nervous going to the game,” he said. “The first inning I was playing outfield and someone hit a fly ball in the air and I didn’t think it was going to come down, but once I caught that I started feeling good.”
Guyer made the most of his opportunity, homering in his first at-bat off Baltimore rookie pitcher Zach Britton and finishing the day 1-for-3 with two RBIs. He became the first Rays’ player to homer in his first at-bat and only one of 107 in MLB history to do so.
“When I got to the plate, I was locked in and focused, and worked my way to a good count and hit a drive,” he said. “It was surreal running around the bases. I just wish I would have slowed down and enjoyed it more.”
Although he was sent down the next day, baseball experts agree Guyer soon will have an everyday job with the team.
“He’s definitely going to be back,” Rays manager John Madden said. “He fits our way of playing very well.”
Since returning to the minors, Guyer has continued to crush the ball to keep the Bulls on top of the International South Division evidenced by his .323 batting average, .540 slugging percentage and 47 runs scored.
“I knew that it was possibly going to be a short stint and I wanted to make the most of it, and I am going to continue doing what I was here,” Guyer said. “Having been called up just makes me want to get called up again even more now.”
For the week of June 13 through 19, Guyer was named the International League’s Batter of the Week, hitting .409 with a double, triple, home run, seven RBIs, six runs scored and a pair of stolen bases.
“It’s one of those things that I put so much work in and to get an acknowledgement like this is cool,” Guyer said. “At the same time, I know my ultimate dream is to get to the big leagues and stay there.”
A 2004 alumnus of Herndon High School, Guyer played in the Reston Little League and at 11, made it within one game of the Little League World Series, losing in the semifinals to Texas.
“It was a great training ground. I had a lot of fun teammates and played a lot of baseball,” he said. “You couldn’t ask for anything better.”
In high school, Guyer also played football and up until the summer after his junior year, thought he would be pursuing that sport in college.
“After my junior year in baseball I didn’t have the greatest year, but then went on the summer showcase, played in the Commonwealth Games and that really changed everything,” he said. “I had a great summer and started getting a lot of looks from college. It changed my whole outlook of what I wanted to do in the future.”
When the colleges came calling, Guyer chose to play with the Cavaliers at the University of Virginia. While at Virginia he improved his batting average each season batting .282 as a freshmen, .333 as a sophomore and .370 as a junior.
“My junior year we were No. 2 in the nation and I couldn’t have asked to be with a better group of guys or better coaching staff,” he said. “It was all a great time.”
It was after that season that Guyer was drafted by the Cubs, despite suffering an injury close to draft day.
“I had some shoulder issues two days before and there was supposed to be some interest from the Yankees, but we weren’t sure it was going to happen,” he said. “It was kind of a rollercoaster and I was just thrilled to be drafted.”
Guyer was the Chicago Cubs Minor League Player of the Year in 2010 with Double-A Tennessee. This off-season, he was traded to Tampa Bay as part of the deal for pitcher Matt Garza.
“I know it’s a business and I can’t really control where I am at,” he said. “I’m having fun and any opportunity to play the game, I am going to take advantage of. I try to go out and play hard and see what happens.”
When he’s not playing baseball, Guyer spends his time with wife, Lindsay Murphy, a sports anchor for Fox 5 in Washington, D.C., who he first met when she interviewed him after a 26-game hitting streak at UVA came to an end.
“I was betting my teammates that I would ask her out and they didn’t believe that,” Guyer said. “Four years later we were married, as we actually got married this January.”
With Tampa Bay outfielder B.J. Upton said to be on the trading block, Guyer might find his way back to Tampa soon. However, he’s not going to let any rumors distract him from his ultimate mission.
“My goal is to do what I can here and if and when I get to the big leagues, I can worry about other stuff,” he said. “I just want to play and I can’t control the movement they make; all I can do is play well and do my best.”