KANSAS CITY -- This weekend has served as a long-awaited homecoming for Jerad Head. Once an undrafted ballplayer hardly considered a prospect of any sort, Head arrived at Kauffman Stadium this weekend as a rookie outfielder for the Indians.
"It was a long road, but well worth it," Head said. "Now, it's not just being content being up here. I've got an opportunity and I'm trying to take full advantage of it."
Head was born in Topeka, Kan., roughly 70 miles west of the Royals' home ballpark. He attended Hayden High School and then Washburn College in Topeka. His local ties led to a host of friends and family, including his parents and fiancee, showing up this weekend to watch him play for Cleveland.
They all got to watch Head collect his first Major League RBI on a second-inning double in Sunday's finale against the Royals.
The 28-year-old Head signed with the Indians as an amateur free agent in August 2005, and it took six years of Minor League ascension before his dream culminated in a Major League promotion. As fate would have it, Head went 1-for-3 in his big league debut on Aug. 28. Naturally, the Tribe was playing Kansas City.
"My debut was against the Royals," Head said with a smile. "Then, coming here with friends and family from this area -- I grew up in this area -- it's been nice."
Entering Sunday's finale against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium, Head was only 1-for-19 as a Major Leaguer. He was a standout performer this season for Triple-A Columbus, though, hitting .284 with 24 home runs and 70 RBIs over 114 games.
Indians manager Manny Acta said welcoming Head to the Majors was a great moment.
"It's always a special time for us coaches and managers," Acta said, "to do that for guys that the odds have never been very good to make it up here, at least in the eyes of people who are evaluating them. He's a guy who has never given up on his dreams, and he achieved it.
"He has a lot of fans down there in our farm system, too, because of the way he goes about his business. You just have to keep pushing, and he did. Opportunity knocked on his door, and he's here."