Even as a supremely talented high school ballplayer, Longmont native and former Erie High and Faith Christian star David Bote was never expected to reach the major leagues, much less become a darling of Cubs' fans.
But that's exactly what happened after Bote slugged a pinch-hit grand slam with two outs and two strikes to give Chicago a walk-off win over the Nationals on Sunday Night Baseball — the first such blast with a team down 3-0 since 1936.
As Bote told Chicago media after the game, the moment was nothing short of "magical," just as the entire season has been for the resilient infielder who's been optioned to Triple-A Iowa five times.
"He's the kind of guy, I'm telling you because I was a scout, who gets overlooked based on his draft status," Cubs manager Joe Maddon told the Chicago Tribune. "He is not talked about much until he really does something spectacular. He's one of those guys who had to show it for people to believe it. He has worked his way into this situation. Give him credit. His work ethic is spectacular. His skill level is high. And it will keep getting better before it gets worse."
Bote helped lead Erie to a Class 3A final four appearance as a freshman in 2008 before transferring to Faith Christian where he capped his prep careeer with a 3A state title in 2011. But he kept his Boulder County ties going in the summers, playing for Boulder High's American Legion teams and a hybrid Boulder-Faith Christian Legion team.
After scrapping his way to a starting role at Neosho County Community College (Chanute, Kansas), Bote was the 554th overall selection in the 18th round of the 2012 draft and then proceeded to spend six-plus seasons in the minor leagues.
The 25-year-old utility infielder made his major league debut at Coors Field on April 21 due to an injury to Ben Zobrist, and he roped a double in his first at-bat. He's since kept finding ways into the Chicago lineup, having been recalled most recently on July 26 due to a shoulder injury to Kris Bryant, and is hitting .329 (25-for-76) with three home runs, 18 RBIs and a .957 OPS. He's played third, second and first base for the Cubs.
For Bob Bote — David's father, the current head coach at Standley Lake and the winner of five Class 4A state championships at Niwot — one of the best parts about his son's emergence onto the national stage is all the sweat behind it.
"More than anything, I just hope that other kids will use David as an example," Bob Bote said. "He has worked his tail off every day for six years to try to get where he wanted to go, and lots of times it just seemed hopeless to him and to us.
"Now, half the time I don't even know what to think — I just watch and go, 'Wow.'"
For his part, David Bote told 670 The Score in Chicago that he's just "enjoying the moment — enjoying what today brings. My wife brought that up to me, saying that sometimes baseball can just give you a moment to enjoy."
All of Colorado is surely enjoying the rise of the 2011 Denver Post Class 3A player of the year, and Bote even has his own manager believing that he might actually be much more than a minor league journeyman fill-in.
"He comes ready," Maddon told the Chicago Tribune last week. "He's eager. He's a great teammate. Just wants the Cubs to win. That's all he wants. He's been showing that all along. He's been available to ride the shuttle (from Triple-A Iowa), but right now he's showing how valuable he actually is."
Follow Kyle Newman@KyleNewmanDP