BALTIMORE, Maryland - Instead of going home to Kentucky, where his family had planned for him an elaborate 30th birthday party, Steve Delabar will spend the last day of his 20s in New York City as a member of the American League All-Star team.
Delabar won the "Final Vote," an mlb.com and Twitter campaign for fans to select the last members of the AL and NL rosters. Braves' first baseman Freddie Freeman is the National League winner.
What a way to ring in the next decade of your life.
"When we landed (in Baltimore) my phone just blew up," said Delabar, who turns 30 on Wednesday. "I had 50 texts. I flip over to Twitter and it said that Freddie Freeman myself and I are in and I was like, 'this is pretty cool.' I just nonchalantly showed Casey (Janssen) the Twitter and he was like, 'you're in, congratulations buddy!' Then they made an announcement on the plane and (I'm thinking) this is pretty cool."
Three years ago Delabar was working as a substitute teacher and an assistant high school baseball coach. The year prior, he'd broken his elbow pitching in a game for the Brockton Rox, an independent league team. A steel plate and nine screws later, the surgery to repair his arm was complete.
Back to playing softball with buddies, Delabar began to learn an arm strengthening program created by Jamie Evans. His intent was to teach the program to the pitchers he was coaching.
Instead, he found his own velocity returning. He caught on with the Mariners in 2011 after impressing in a tryout. He was acquired by the Blue Jays on July 30, 2012, for Eric Thames.
Evans is now employed by the Blue Jays as a consultant and Casey Janssen, Brett Cecil and Dustin McGowan are among the disciples of his arm strengthening program.
Asked what he would have told you on a summer day in 2010 if you'd suggested he'd be going to the 2013 All-Star Game and Delabar laughs.
"Where do I pick up my ticket," joked Delabar. "I probably would have laughed and said 'yeah right.' I would have envisioned myself being in the softball all star game before I would be here. It's crazy the things that can happen in a short period of time and to be where I am right now and like I tell everybody, I'm blessed to here."
The Blue Jays' bullpen, as it has for much of the season, leads the league with 327 2/3 innings pitched. Its 20 wins are ranked second in the majors and its 2.97 ERA, the only stat in this paragraph which reflects positively on the ballclub, is fourth.
"It's a well deserved honour," said manager John Gibbons. "To have two guys going from your bullpen who are not in the closer's role, which is very rare anyway, speaks volumes to what they've done, the kind of years they're having. They've both been real strong go-to guys and have had tremendous years."
Delabar hinted that Munenori Kawasaki was his campaign manager in the lead up to the final vote.
"I'm happy," said Kawasaki. "Delabar and me played in Seattle together, last year in Seattle. He's my friend.
"I'm watching All-Star on TV."
Delabar will have his parents, Steve and Debbe, his wife, baby daughter and in-laws with him in New York.