February 3, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO — This wasn't one of those history-making moments that came out of nowhere. Brandon Finnegan, the 21-year-old Kansas City Royals relief pitcher, has heard people talking about this for months.

Finnegan was the Royals' first-round draft pick in June. He also pitched in the College World Series in June for Texas Christian University. He arrived in the big leagues on Sept. 6 and not long after people were telling him he could be the first pitcher to appear in both the College World Series and MLB World Series. (Yes, some people in Royals world were thinking World Series as a possibility in early September).

Friday night, in the Royals' Game 3 World Series win, it happened. Finnegan marched out from the bullpen, he got two crucial outs in the seventh inning with a runner on base and the Royals up one. Now, he stands alone in history. And, after seven whole weeks as a big-league pitcher, his cap is Cooperstown.

"I'm very lucky," he said.

There's no question which World Series is more important, but Finnegan also noticed another big difference.

“This is insane," Finnegan said. "College World Series, there’s a lot of people there, but they’re not there to just cheer on your team. It’s nice and loud, but the crowds here are here for one team and one team only. They’re going to make sure you know it, too. The crowds in Omaha [Neb.] definitely don’t chirp at you the way they do here.”

A Giants fan yelled at him when he was in the bullpen: “You’re too short to ride this ride.” 

“I thought that was pretty funny," said Finnegan, who is listed as 5-foot-11, but that might be a little generous. "That’s when I was warming up. I turned around and gave him a thumbs up because I thought that was pretty funny myself.”

He wasn't laughing after he got the third out of the seventh. That was pure relief.

"There was a lot of stress taken away after that," Finnegan said. "I was nervous but not too nervous. I was glad I got the job done so I could hand it off to Wade [Davis]. After that, I knew we were gonna win.”

And win they did, taking a 2-1 series advantage over the Giants. TCU didn't win the College World Series, so that's something he can do for the first time with the Royals. In fact, Finnegan says that's more on his mind after Game 3 than his unique place in baseball history.

"Nothing's hit me yet. When the season's over and I'm hanging around with my friends and they're blowing my ear up about it, then I think I'll realize what happened," Finnegan said. "Until then, it's still go time."