There are 2,430 Major League Baseball games in a regular season, but wins are hard to come by. Just ask Long Beach native and Wilson High alum Chase De Jong, who started on the mound for the Pittsburgh Pirates Monday evening and picked up the win as he pitched five innings and gave up four hits and just one run in an 11-1 victory.
It was the second win of De Jong’s career—the first came more than three years ago, a journey that’s taken him across the country as he’s tried to rebuild his MLB career.
“I’m pretty emotional right now,” De Jong said in the postgame press conference. “Two different independent ball stints, multiple organizations, up and down just fighting and grinding for all this. I mean, three years between Major League wins for me. This was a pretty special night, and to grind through the first, be able to get through that and then cover five and not put a huge burden on the bullpen tonight, that’s what I was really proud of. And then at the end of it, obviously having the win, it’s really special.”
De Jong was a star in Long Beach from an early age, as the ace pitcher on the Long Beach PONY team out of Whaley Park that won the PONY World Series in 2008. He went on to have a standout career at Wilson High, and was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the second round after his senior year.
His Major League career has been up and down. He made his debut in 2017 for the Mariners and got his last win for the Twins in 2018. He made just three appearances over the last three years, bouncing up and down and eventually out of the Major Leagues. De Jong talked about his journey through independent baseball on “What Up, Long Beach?!,” where he said, “I knew I had more baseball in front of me. I never doubted that.”
This year, he proved himself right. He had a great spring training with the Pirates and has now started seven games for Pittsburgh, his strongest season so far as a professional—at 27 years old. It’s a journey that had Pirates coach Derek Shelton emotional as well.
“I’m really happy for Chase. It’s a long way back,” Shelton told the Post-Gazette. “This is a guy that rebuilt himself with indy baseball, made it back to the big leagues. Really happy for him, man. Cool moment.”
As De Jong has been on the long and winding road, he’s still spent time in Long Beach during the offseason, and he’s also married and had a child, as he and wife Chrissy welcomed Clayton Bernhard De Jong prior to this season. Becoming a father only fueled De Jong’s desire to make it back to The Show and to stake his claim. Both Chrissy and baby Clayton were on hand for his win last night.
“My boy was in the stands, my wife was in the stands,” he said. “This was a really special night.”
It’s been three years since Chase’s last win.
Tonight was emotional. pic.twitter.com/9x01Zwp6d7
— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) July 6, 2021
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