Evan Gattis Swings for the Fence in His Second Try at Baseball 3/27/13
CBS7 Sports Director
Evan Gattis was not your typical little-leaguer.
"It was very apparent out there on the field that this kid was something special," said his stepbrother, Drew Kendrick. "It's not every day you see someone out there, 12-years-old and you think 'Wow, that kid is gonna make it."
A highly touted baseball prospect in high school, Evan got recruited by Texas A&M; but, he never made it there. In 2003 things started to fall apart.
"I think the thought of failure and having to live up to 'his name,' as a baseball player," said Drew, "and he always had that pressure on him - having to live up to these expectations. That is what led to the alcohol use, and doing drugs, smoking marijuana, stuff like that."
He entered a rehab facility in 2004, but they told him his problem wasn't a drug addiction: he had depression. After some time in a halfway house, he tried to go back to baseball.
"He decided he wanted to play baseball again and went to Seminole State College in Oklahoma," Drew shared. "I think after a season and a half he said, 'You know what, I'm done playing baseball.' And he went to find himself."
Evan then bounced around from Yellowstone to Boulder and ended up following a spiritual leader who led him to California.
"He was sleeping in his truck because he didn't have money to get a hotel," said Drew. "But, that guy told him, 'Evan, there is nothing wrong with you. Go! Live life."
Drew said he was on his way to baseball practice when Evan called saying he wanted to get back into the game. After that, it was a no-brainer that Evan belonged at UTPB.
"I said, 'Okay, bring him on,'" said UTPB baseball coach Brian Reinke. "I went to Dallas and sat and talked with him about everything he'd been through in the past. I told him I'd do my best to get him drafted."
After that, everything fell into place. Evan had a huge year with the Falcons in 2010. He got drafted by Atlanta that year, and then, Wednesday morning March 27, everyone got the big news: Evan had made the Braves 25-man roster.
"I was running around like a Tazmanian Devil!" Drew said. "I sent Evan a text back saying, 'You experienced a crazy journey, but I think it was the journey that had to be.'"
"It's not your right to play this game: it's an opportunity," said Reinke. "He really approached it that way and did everything on his own basically. Just being able to be part of the story is just the coolest thing I've felt in a long time."
It isn't known yet if Evan will be in the lineup on opening day. Right now, he's just enjoying being in "the bigs."