In 2010, Yelich committed to a baseball scholarship to the University of Miami, his senior year at Westlake High School in Thousand Oaks, California. That season, he hit .451 (37-for-82) with 14 doubles, two triples, nine homers, and 25 RBIs in 28 games for Westlake. Westlake High is the same program that produced big leaguers Matt Franco, Mike Lieberthal, and John Snyder.
In 2011, Baseball America rated Yelich as the third best prospect in the Marlins' organization. Christian was the #1 prospect in the Marlins' farm system in the spring of 2012. And he was at #2 in the offseason before 2013 spring camps opened.
In 2011, Yelich was named the Marlins Minor League Player of the Year. He was third in the South Atlantic League in batting (.312) and ranked among league leaders in doubles (32), total bases (223), steals (32), on-base percentage (.388), and OPS (.871).
Christian was also named the 2012 Marlins Minor League Player of the Year. That year, he led the Florida State League in slugging percentage (.519), ranked second in average and on-base percentage (.404), and third in runs scored (76), while earning FSL Mid-Season and Annual All-Star honors.
March 2013: When Marlins manager Mike Redmond and hitting coach Tino Martinez are asked about Yelich, their eyes light up. "I'll tell you, man, I love putting him in that lineup," Redmond said. "Every opportunity I have to put him in there, I get him in there. He gives you a great at-bat. It doesn't matter who he faces. Believe me, we go around and around [on where he'll start the season]. That's something that we'll have to talk about."
Added Martinez: "He's ready. I don't know where he's going to go. I don't know where they're going to send him. I mean, he's having a great spring and he's proved he can play at this level. And I don't see anything changing. It's obvious he's a great hitter. I haven't messed with him. He can just hit."
Yelich's goal when he came to 2013 spring training was to relax and learn as much as possible as long as he was in big league camp. He said that the mindset has translated into success so far and watching how veterans like Juan Pierre and Chone Figgins prepare to go to work has been a plus.
MLB Debut - July 23, 2013: Yelich said he could not have dreamed up a better Major League debut after he went 3-for-4 with three singles and drove in two of the Marlins' four runs. Yelich joined Giancarlo Stanton and Mike Redmond as the only Marlins to collect three hits in their debuts.
Based on his family’s athletic roots, Yelich seemed destined to play football.
His uncle, Chris Yelich, won two Rose Bowls as an offensive lineman with UCLA in the 1980s. And his mother’s grandfather was the late Fred Gehrke, a halfback for the old Cleveland and Los Angeles Rams.
Gehrke, who died in 2002 when Yelich was 10, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame for something he did off the field. In 1948, he designed the team’s distinctive logo: yellow horns on a background of dark blue. He was an art major at the University of Utah and is credited with pioneering the practice of football teams putting their logos on their helmets.
“It’s pretty cool that he made some pretty revolutionary changes in football. Having done that is pretty special,’’ Yelich said of Gehrke, who also served as the Denver Broncos general manager.
Yelich’s football career never got past flag games in middle school in Southern California. He also played basketball and soccer, but he took a particular liking to baseball.
“He has some good genes—football genes, not baseball genes, but athletic genes nonetheless,’’ his mother, Alecia Yelich, said with a laugh.
Christian had a busy offseason before 2013 spring training. He played in the Arizona Fall League, and worked out every day with a personal trainer in hopes of hitting for more power.
He also spent time working out with Tarrik Brock, the Marlins’ minor league outfield coordinator. Yelich’s work ethic doesn’t surprise people who know him.
“You look at Christian and his brother, you can tell they have a plan,’’ said Zach Miller, who was Yelich’s baseball coach at Westlake High School in Westlake Village, Calif. “You can tell they come from a well-disciplined athletic family, and academics was always number one.”
Yelich gives credit to his Mom: Alecia Yelich traveled with Christian to tournaments across the United States to give him every chance to be seen by scouts.
“He’s harder on himself than anyone else,’’ Alecia Yelich said. “He’s kind of a perfectionist.”
Miller remembers Yelich as a quick learner with exceptional hand-eye coordination. He played left field as a freshman and first base as a sophomore before moving to shortstop in his junior year, at Miller’s request, to fill a roster vacancy.
In his senior year, he played third base. “But he stayed after practice to shag balls in center field because he knew that he was going to the outfield as a pro," Miller said. "He’s very humble. He’s not too emotional. You couldn’t tell if he was 0-for-4 or 4-for-4. He’s just that kind of guy." (Joe Capozzi - 8/31/2013)
Yelich declined a scholarship offer from UCLA and committed to the University of Miami. But when the Marlins drafted him, he decided to go pro.
Following is an interview Baseball Life had with Christian Yelich:
Baseball Life: Who was your favorite MLB Player and MLB Team when you were younger? Has that changed today or are they still the same?
Christian Yelich: I never really had a favorite team, but my favorite player was Derek Jeter and its still that way today because of how he carries himself on and off the field.
BL: You were a high school star at Westlake High School and you were involved in the 2008 and 2009 Perfect Game Wood Bat Championships. What was your proudest accomplishment during your high school career?
CY: My best high school baseball memory was winning that World Wood Bat tournament. It was a great group of guys and a lot of them are now playing professional baseball.
BL: You had committed to the University of Miami prior to being drafted in 2010 by the Marlins. Describe that day for us and tell us what you were doing and how you got the news. Did you have any idea that Miami was going to be the one and how hard was it to forgo the University of Miami?
CY: Going into the draft I had no idea what was going to happen or when I was going to be picked. Thankfully, the Marlins gave me this opportunity and I ended up forgoing the University of Miami because in the end, my dream was always to play professional baseball.
BL: As you made the transition from high school baseball to pro-ball, what was the most difficult challenge? You were quite a distance from home as well, from one coast to the other. You also experienced positional changes as well. From the infield to the outfield, how smooth was the move?
CY: I think the biggest adjustment to pro ball for me was learning to play everyday and changing positions. Moving to the outfield has gone well and very smoothly and that’s a testament to our player development staff and coaches who have worked with me.
BL: By all accounts, you are one of the most disciplined and nicest young men around. Who had the most influence on your life and how you are able to handle the pressures and ins and outs of the everyday Minor League lifestyle with such great professionalism?
CY: My Mom has had the most influence on me and I would just have to say it goes back to the way I was raised.
BL: Is there a specific workout routine that you do to enhance your speed, power and hitting ability? CY: In the offseason I workout with a couple other baseball players and just focus on baseball related movements and exercises.
BL: What type of music do you like? What is your current “Walk-Out” song? What is the most played artist on your current I-pod playlist? CY: I like all music for the most part except hardcore metal. My current walk up song is “Cameras” by Drake.
BL: If you were not playing baseball, what would be your chosen profession? CY: If I wasn’t playing baseball, your going to think this a little crazy, but I wanted to be a Navy Seal and that’s before they've had all this recent publicity. I'd just like being a part of the best of the best.
BL: What is your favorite baseball movie of all time? CY: Bull Durham.
BL: Describe yourself in one word. CY: Dedicated.
BL: If you could be any Superhero, who would it be and why would you choose that hero? CY: I would be Batman because that would mean I was also Bruce Wayne.
In 2014, Yelich was named the Marlins' Heart and Hustle Award winner, as selected by the MLB Players Alumni Association. (7/22/2014)
Spring 2015: Combine the sweet swing, the better-than-average speed and solid hitting approach, and the Marlins feel Christian Yelich has the makings to be a batting champion.
In the eyes of the organization, Yelich is a rising star, which is one reason it was eager to lock up the left fielder to a long-term deal. Manager Mike Redmond spoke about what the future may hold for the 2014 National League Gold Glove-winning left fielder. Could a batting title be on the horizon?
"That could be a possibility," Redmond said. "He definitely has the swing, the pitch selection, and makes the contact to be able to hit for a high average. I think his power is something that will get better and improve. This guy is still lean. He's still going to get stronger and bigger as he gets older." Many of the qualities Yelich displays is what Redmond saw first hand from his former teammate, Minnesota's Joe Mauer, a previous batting champ. (Joe Frisaro - MLB.com - March 19, 2015)
Christian's brother Cameron was overseas serving in the U.S. Marines. He touched base with Christian any way possible. Sometimes it's in the form of a brief text message that may take days or even weeks for a response. But Cameron recently surprised his older brother by sending a short video.
"He sent me a video of me striking out the other night, so he watched the game somewhere," Yelich said. "I don't know where. He said his friend's house. He's back in the United States right now. So he can watch some games. I don't think he follows them overseas. We stay in contact as much as we can." His other younger brother, Collin, is currently a catcher in the Braves' system, on the Rookie-level Danville Braves. (Frisaro - MLB.com - 6/30/16)
December 5, 2016: Yelich committed to play for team USA in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
Nov 29, 2017: Yelich was ready to do some heavy lifting as part of an initiative to bring relief to areas devastated by natural disasters. Yelich took part in the Players Trust "Returning Home" event in Dallas to raise funds to benefit those impacted in California, Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico. Joining Yelich were Altuve, Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez, and more than 50 former or current players.
"It's been a tough year for a lot of people all over the country," Yelich said on MLB Network's "Hot Stove" morning show. "It's just nice to let them know we appreciate them and haven't forgotten about them. We're going to do anything we can to help out."
A native of Thousand Oaks, Calif., Yelich reminded people that his home state was impacted by wild fires. Florida, Houston, Texas, and Puerto Rico are still recovering from the wraths left by hurricanes. "Ready to get after it," Yelich said. "It's just going to be nice to give back, and show these people we haven't forgotten about them, and we still care."
As part of the "Returning Home" event, the players were scheduled to visit a Habitat for Humanity warehouse in Dallas, where they were framing two houses for victims of Houston floods. They're also going to assemble holiday gift packages for displaced families. (J Frisaro - MLB.com - Nov 29, 2017)
July 2018 : Yelich was selected to play reserve in the MLB All-Star game.
November 2018 : Yelich represented MLB in the All-Star Tour in Japan.
Sept 21, 2018: Like many other sports fans, Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield has an opinion on who should get the nod for the National League Most Valuable Player. Unlike many other sports fans, he has a platform to let a lot of people know what he thinks. After leading the Browns to a comeback victory, he gave a shout-out to Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich.
"Christian Yelich for NL MVP," he said to close his postgame press conference, and that came after he walked into the stadium wearing an autographed Yelich jersey. Mayfield and Yelich became friends in the offseason, when Mayfield trained for the NFL Combine at the same facility Yelich uses in California. Yelich and the Brewers got to Pittsburgh in time to watch Mayfield's big game unfold.
"They played a great game, so it was fun to watch," Yelich said. "We had a lot of guys in the clubhouse rooting for the Browns yesterday. Obviously it's a big victory for the Browns and the city of Cleveland. It was fun to watch."
Yelich said he got a heads-up that Mayfield was going to wear his jersey, one that Mayfield had bought and asked Yelich to autograph while they were training. But nobody expected Mayfield to have a postgame press conference after he started the game as Cleveland's backup.
"He came in one day wearing it," Yelich said. "He asked me if I would sign it for him. Obviously, I did, and he ended up wearing it to the game. You don't really think it was going to go down how it went down, so it was a really cool moment for him getting that win for the Browns and the city of Cleveland." While Yelich appreciated the gesture, he's not sure how much pull Mayfield has in the proper circles to influence the vote. Members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America vote for MVP.
"We'll see," he said. "That's up to you guys. In all honesty, we're trying to just see if we can win as many games as we can down the stretch here, these last nine. I feel like everything else just takes care of itself. Obviously, it's a cool moment and much appreciated."
In addition to being an MVP candidate, Yelich led the NL with a .319 batting average, a .569 slugging percentage and a .954 OPS, but he remains more focused on the team goals at hand.
"When our team's in it and we have so much at stake every night, it's easier to separate the two," he said. "In your head, you don't have it carry over because we're so focused on our team goals, what we have to go out and accomplish as a team, and what we're on the brink of—being able to clinch a postseason spot." (A Saunders - MLB.com - Sept 21, 2018)
Cameron Yelich, Christian's youngest brother, was honorably discharged from the United States Marine Corps and is expected to attend the Brewers' final 2018 regular-season series.
Cameron served a four-year commitment in the Marines, and he has not seen a Major League game in person since 2016. Since then, his oldest brother won a gold medal with Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, made his first MLB All-Star team, and has become one of the preeminent hitters in the sport.
Cameron enlisted in the Marines following his high school graduation and was promoted to sergeant in 2018, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. While Christian excelled for the Stars and Stripes in the 2017 Classic, Cameron trained with the Marines in Hawaii.
After Team USA won the gold medal at Dodger Stadium—not far from where the three Yelich brothers grew up in Thousand Oaks, Calif.—Yelich told MLB Tonight, "What we did was nothing compared to what my brother does. He fights for our country and puts it all on the line. This was the next-best thing. This was the best thing that we could do." (Morosi - mlb.com - 9/27/2018)
October 5, 2018: Blake Rutherford, the No. 7 White Sox prospect per MLB Pipeline, will soon begin his offseason training program after taking part in this week's four-day mini-camp at Camelback Ranch. But Rutherford's offseason workout partner, Christian Yelich, won't need a note from home to explain why he might be slightly delayed.
"Hopefully, he's not there for a while," a smiling Rutherford said. "Hopefully, he can win a championship."
Rutherford, 21, works out with Yelich, 26, at Proactive Sports Performance in Westlake, Calif., in the offseason. Rutherford's brother, Cole, and Yelich's brother, Collin, played together on a travel team when they were 10 years old, and the two families were friendly, but Rutherford didn't get to know Yelich well at that point. It wasn't until when Rutherford started working out at Proactive during his high school years that Yelich sort of took him under his wing. Each offseason, they grew closer and closer as they worked together, and they were able to bounce ideas off each other.
Yelich has transformed into the odds-on frontrunner for the 2018 NL MVP. Rutherford, meanwhile, is coming off a .293 effort with Class A Advanced Winston-Salem, featuring seven home runs, 78 RBIs, 41 extra-base hits and 15 stolen bases. The seven homers represent Rutherford's career high in a single season as he continues to follow Yelich's lead in becoming a solid hitter first, knowing the power will arrive.
"He's always been known as a line-drive hitter, gap to gap. Hits the ball hard," Rutherford said of Yelich. "He said it's always easier to be a good hitter and be able to hit the ball hard to both fields.
"As I get stronger and I learn my swing and approach better, those line drives will take off and become homers. He tells me to work on being a gap-to-gap hitter and being an all-around hitter, and then let the power come when it comes."
Power came this season for Yelich, who previously topped out at 21 homers in 2016 with the Marlins, although he did amass 134 doubles in his four years in Miami. But in 2018, Yelich launched 36 homers to go with his 110 RBIs and league-leading .326 average, .598 slugging percentage and 1.000 OPS. This near-Triple Crown performance did not surprise Rutherford.
"He has a phenomenal swing," Rutherford said. "He's a great player. It's exciting for me to be able to turn on the TV and watch him get the respect he's been deserving for so long. I'm blessed to be able to work with him and see how he goes about his work on a day-to-day basis in the offseason. He brings a lot of fun and thrill to the game."
The two keep up with each other in-season, with Yelich checking in on Rutherford and being the first to reach out with words of encouragement if he falls into a slump. Rutherford kind of models himself after Yelich, and the White Sox hope he has the same high-end development as the fellow Californian.
"I always watch him closely, because I feel like we are kind of similar in build," Rutherford said. "As the offseason comes, I'll get to talk to him more about what he's doing at the plate and pick the little stuff up. It's something I take notice of, when someone is having that good of a year, and I'm able to talk to him on a regular basis just about what's changed and how he is feeling." (Scott Merkin - MLB.com)
October 24, 2018: Yelich took home most valuable player and top newcomer honors when the Milwaukee chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America announced its 2018 Brewers award winners. Yelich became the first Brewers player to win a batting title, leading the National League with a .326 average, a .598 slugging percentage and a 1.000 OPS to go with 36 home runs, 110 RBIs and 22 stolen bases in his debut season in Milwaukee. He was an NL All-Star for the first time.
Nov 7, 2018: The shooting at a bar in Thousand Oaks, Calif., that claimed the lives of at least 12 people hit home for Brewers star Christian Yelich, who grew up in that Los Angeles suburb and attended high school less than five miles away.
Yelich shared his condolences via Twitter, including for Ventura County Sheriff Sgt. Ron Helus, a 29-year department veteran who was the first law enforcement officer to enter the Borderline Bar and Grill. Helus exchanged fire with the gunman and was struck several times, and died later in the hospital.
"Heartbreaking whenever tragedies like this occur and especially when they are in your own hometown," Yelich tweeted. "Thousand Oaks is a tremendous community and will support those who need it the most at this time. Prayers are with the Victims and their families, including SGT Ron Helus of VCPD."
Yelich now lives in Malibu, Calif., but he attended Westlake High School in Thousand Oaks until 2010, when the Marlins drafted him 23rd overall. Miami traded him to Milwaukee in January. (A McCalvy - MLB.com - Nov 8, 2018)
In 2018, Yelich was a near-unanimous choice for the National League MVP Award, getting 29 of 30 first-place votes from the Baseball Writers' Association of America to win in a landslide over runner-up Javier Baez of the Cubs and third-place finisher Nolan Arenado of the Rockies. "It's an incredible feeling," Yelich said. "Kind of mind-boggling."
Jan 9, 2019: What started as a series of text messages has grown into a star-studded event overlooking the Pacific Ocean on Sunday, Jan 9, 2019 when National League MVP Award winner Christian Yelich and some famous friends gathered for a good cause.
Yelich is one of the organizers of the California Strong Celebrity Softball Game at Pepperdine University to raise funds for Californians impacted by dual tragedies in the fall -- the Oct. 7 shooting at a bar in Thousand Oaks, Calif., followed by wildfires, including the Woolsey Fire, which burned swaths of Los Angeles and Ventura Counties.
The fire displaced Yelich, his 2018 Brewers teammates Ryan Braun and Mike Moustakas, and Mike Attanasio, the son of the team's owner. In the aftermath, the quartet started a text chain to share what little information was available about their homes. It quickly morphed into a brainstorming session about raising funds to help others rebuild.
"We were talking about, 'Hey, we need to do something to help. We need to give back,'" Yelich said. "We didn't know exactly what that was going to be or how we were going to do it." The result was their "California Strong" campaign in conjunction with the YMCA of Southeast Ventura County. The men started a fundraising campaign, which had netted nearly $450,000 in donations as of this week. They sold T-shirts and other memorabilia over the holidays to raise more funds, and they organized a charity auction.
They gathered with other sports and entertainment celebrities for a softball game at Pepperdine, where Braun and Moustakas have worked out in the winter. Other Major League players slated to appear include Justin Turner and Joc Pederson of the Dodgers, Eric Hosmer of the Padres, Tyler Skaggs of the Angels and Jack Flaherty of the Cardinals. Two NFL quarterbacks will be there: Yelich's good friend, Baker Mayfield of the Browns, and L.A. Rams quarterback Jared Goff, who will be fresh off his team's Saturday night playoff game against the Cowboys. Actor Jamie Foxx is also participating in the event. (A McCalvy - MLB.com - Jan 9, 2019)
Jan 27, 2019: The offseason is supposed to be for rest, but Christian Yelich has had little of that. Yet he was on the move again. National League Valuable Player Award in tow, Yelich was the star of "Brewers On Deck," the club's annual Fan Fest, which sold out Milwaukee's downtown convention center for the first time. He made those rounds after jetting in from the Baseball Writers' Association of America's New York chapter dinner, which followed a trip to Madison, Wisconsin, for an event to mark American Family Insurance's stadium naming rights agreement, which came after he filmed a Pepsi commercial, which came after he helped host a charity softball game as part of an effort that has raised in excess of $1.5 million so far for California wildfire relief.
After he flies home to California, there are no more trips and no major events before Brewers position players formally report to Spring Training. That's when Yelich will begin a defense of his breakthrough 2018 season, in which he flirted with the Triple Crown, became the first Brewers player ever to win a league batting title, and won NL MVP Award honors, the NL Hank Aaron Award as the league's top offensive player, and an NL Silver Slugger Award.
Yelich's team faces a similar task. The Brewers set a franchise record by winning 102 games, including an NL Central tiebreaker against the Cubs, an NL Division Series sweep of the Rockies and three more victories in the NL Championship Series before falling to the Dodgers, one game shy of the World Series. "We got so close; one game away from going to the World Series," said outfielder Lorenzo Cain. "I tell people all the time, it's the same feeling I had in KC, when we got to the World Series and lost in Game 7."
Of Yelich, Cain said, "I got an up close and personal view of him and the guy was unbelievable all season long. The way he played, there was no doubt in my mind that he was going to win [the NL MVP Award]. He's a big part of this team, a guy who drives this team. We don't expect anything less next year. It's going to be tough, but he's capable of getting it done." The Brewers are cognizant of their MVP's busy offseason, and may take steps in Spring Training to build in as much rest as possible, president of baseball operations David Stearns suggested.
But Yelich will have a say. Stearns has a hunch that even in Spring Training, he will want to play. "I've talked to him about it a little bit," said Stearns. "I think he understands this has been a little bit of a different offseason. I think he's also committed to exhale for the next week and a half or so. Then, we'll make sure we take care of him in camp. I think his body is ready; physically he feels great. If we need to give him some mental breaks, we'll certainly do that."
Said manager Craig Counsell: "Christian and I actually had a conversation about it last night. It was a good conversation. It's what you do now. You get locked in, it's a different season, different things are going to get you locked in. So that's the challenge of being a professional athlete. What's next is always the question that you're answering. "Christian has a huge challenge in front of him. I think he's looking forward to that. He wants to get better and he feels like he can get better. That's what's on his plate and that's what you want on his plate."
When it was suggested that Yelich is now a superstar in Milwaukee, Counsell exclaimed, "He's a superstar in the world. We had people chasing our car down last night down the streets in New York. It's different. He won the MVP. That makes life different."
Yelich flew with owner Mark Attanasio from Los Angeles to New York, where they were met by Counsell and Stearns for the BBWAA event. Then they all traveled on to Milwaukee for On Deck. In his speech in New York, Yelich referenced a similar trip almost exactly one year earlier, from Southern California to Phoenix to pick up Bob Uecker and Robin Yount before traveling to On Deck. That was two days or so after he was traded to the Brewers from the Marlins, and Yelich's head was still swimming.
"It has been a wild ride. A crazy 12 months," Yelich said. "If you told me everything that was going to happen in those next 12 months, I definitely wouldn't have believed you. It makes you grateful for all the experiences along the way."
At some point soon, the focus will shift to experiences ahead. "We were close last season", Yelich said. "People have probably had some time to sit back and reflect on the season and those feelings. You want those feelings again. You want the energy in the stadium like we felt down the stretch and in the playoffs. You want to get back there and get over that hurdle, get into the World Series and hopefully bring one here to Milwaukee.
"I think we'll be talking about that more as Spring Training gets underway and you start to define your team goals a little bit and the approach you want to take into the season. I think that hunger and that drive should be there for everyone. It's not a great feeling to be sitting there after a Game 7 loss, having been so close. I think it's going to drive us as a team." (A McCalvy - MLB.com - Jan 27, 2019)
March 5, 2019: Playing catch is fun. It's fun to do with your mom, dad, brother, sister, friend, dog or just a plain old brick wall. But do you know who's best to play catch with? The, um, reigning National League MVP.
Just when you think you couldn’t possibly love the guy any more than you already do, @ChristianYelich has to go and do something like this. Yes, Christian took some time out before his Spring Training game against the Rockies to toss the ball around with a young fan. Not an all-that-unusual occurrence coming from a league MVP. Let's hope this gets him some early votes for his 2019 campaign. (Cut4 - March 5, 2019)
March 4, 2019: If you’re anything like us, you probably missed the all new episode of CBS’ "Magnum P.I."
If you missed it, you that you missed seeing Christian Yelich on TV. Yes, the Brewers outfielder made a short cameo in the March 4 episode when he paid a visit to the 2018 Little League World Champs.
Over the course of his approximately two-minute appearance, Yelich congratulates the young ballplayers, flirts with “Auntie” Julie Higgins, signs some autographs, and socks a pitch thrown by the dude from Happy Endings for a no-doubt dinger. (Tyler Maas - Milwaukee Record)
March 9, 2019: Never underestimate the power of social media to bring players and fans together, in a positive way. When Brewers fan Seth Jones—@sjonesiegolfman on Twitter—tweeted a video of his young sons admiring a framed picture of star outfielder Christian Yelich, he probably didn't think Yelich would actually see it, much less respond to it.
"Hey @ChristianYelich what do you say?! These kids are excited to see you play on Saturday! @Brewers," Jones tweeted. And Yelich responded. "See you Saturday! Let's make it happen," Yelich tweeted back.
The group—Seth, his wife, Kyrsten, sons Jamison (age 4) and Lukas (2), and their buddy, Ryder Carmichael (4)— met at Tempe Diablo Stadium prior to the Brewers' game with the Angels.
The conversation was lively. "Christian Yelich," Jamison said. "That's right," Yelich responded. "Your number is on the back of me," Jamison said, turning around to show Yelich the No. 22 on the back of his Brewers T-shirt. "I've got the same one," Yelich said, turning around and showing the back of his jersey. Yelich signed the picture for the kids, much to the delight of everyone involved. "Thanks @ChristianYelich and @Brewers for making dreams come true!" Seth Jones tweeted (A Footer - MLB.com - March 9, 2019)
FRIENDS WITH BAKER MAYFIELD
March 15, 2019: Yelich got a heads up on Sept. 19, 2018 that his buddy Baker Mayfield had something in mind for the following day. Yelich knew that Mayfield, then the high-profile backup quarterback of the long-suffering Cleveland Browns, had a game the next night against the New York Jets, but nothing else. “Wait and see,” Mayfield told Yelich.
So Yelich waited. The Brewers arrived in Pittsburgh that night in time to watch Thursday Night Football, and Yelich, who was in the midst of the late-season surge that made him the frontrunner for the National League MVP Award, saw Mayfield arrive at Cleveland's FirstEnergy Stadium wearing a Brewers No. 22 jersey. Then Yelich watched as Browns starter Tyrod Taylor went down with an injury, putting Mayfield into the game. Mayfield led the Browns back from a 14-0 deficit for their first victory in nearly two years. At the end of a triumphant postgame press conference, Mayfield leaned into the microphone and said, “Christian Yelich for NL MVP.”
“Everything that followed afterwards just added to the special run that we had,” said Yelich, who did win the NL MVP Award and led the Brewers to a NL Central crown and within one game of the World Series. “We had everything going for us down the stretch.”
Mayfield was in a Brewers jersey again. This time, it was his own No. 6 for a two-day stint in Milwaukee’s Spring Training camp.
“I grew up dreaming of playing baseball, so it’s pretty crazy becoming friends with Christian Yelich,” Mayfield said. “It’s pretty fun to be here, riding the coattails of an MVP.”
“It started off as a joke,” Yelich said. The joke became reality after Yelich ran the idea of Mayfield taking part in camp by his friend Mike Attanasio, the son of the Brewers’ owner. Mark Attanasio, GM David Stearns and manager Craig Counsell all approved, and Mayfield reported to camp with a locker waiting for him.
“Just trying to get a contract, man,” Mayfield joked. What position? “Probably riding the bench, but we’ll see,” he said.
Mayfield and Yelich became friends a little more than a year ago after meeting at Proactive Sports Performance, a gym in Westlake Village, Calif., near Yelich’s home. Mayfield was prepping for the NFL Combine and the 2018 NFL Draft, when he would go to Cleveland with the first overall pick. Yelich was getting ready for his fifth full season in the Major Leagues, which took a turn when he was traded from the Marlins to the Brewers in late January.
“It was one of those mutual-respect things. He’s just so nice, such a down-to-earth guy,” Mayfield said. “Having real conversations. There’s nothing phony about him. What you see is what you get. It’s a lot of fun.”
For both, 2018 was a dream year. Mayfield led the Browns to a respectable 7-8-1 record after they were 0-16 the year before. Yelich led the Brewers to their fourth division title in 50 seasons as a franchise, and became the team’s fifth league MVP. When Yelich won that award live on MLB Network, Mayfield was there. The Browns happened to be on their bye week.
When they talked, did they ever wonder whether this was real life? “Along the lines of that—‘Is this really happening? Who allowed us to be professionals in sports?’” Mayfield said. “You dream of playing sports for a long time and then when you’re actually here, you don’t even realize it until you take a step back and look at it. A lot of that, just realizing how fortunate and blessed we were.”
Said Yelich: “It’s definitely a different life. It’s under the microscope sometimes. The thing is, at the end of the day, everyone is still the same person they were when they were a kid growing up. You don’t ever lose sight of that.”
Mayfield grew up in Austin, Texas, and was actually a pretty good third baseman who says he had some offers to play baseball. Baseball was “his first love,” he said, but football was his calling, so he went to Texas Tech and then to Oklahoma, where he led the Sooners to the College Football Playoff semifinals twice in three years, and won the 2017 Heisman Trophy.
When he landed with the Browns, Mayfield had an immediate fan in the Brewers' clubhouse in third baseman Travis Shaw, an Ohio native who has been known to wear Mayfield’s jersey to the ballpark on football Sundays. Shaw previewed Mayfield’s appearance in Brewers camp on social media.
“There's some optimism in Cleveland, finally,” he said. “After a lot of years, finally some optimism.”
Before shagging fly balls and throwing some footballs during the Brewers’ morning practice, Mayfield joined the daily team meeting. Counsell figures Mayfield could have stood in front of the room and talked all day, if they let him.
“What you’re immediately drawn to is, he was part of the team from the second he was in the room,” Counsell said. “He’s a leader, there’s no question about it. You get that vibe from him right away, and you can see why guys follow him and why he’s the quarterback. “The dude has it. No question.” (A McCalvy - MLB.com - March 2019)
May 12, 2019 (Mothers Day): “She played a big part in keeping [his career] going,” said Christian Yelich. “If she didn’t, who knows where I would be right now. Definitely not all this stuff.
“It’s a good lesson about what can happen if you stick with something. It doesn’t all come easy. I’m thankful that she made me finish out my commitment, basically. That’s the biggest message: Don’t quit. I think about it sometimes, and I don’t know what I would be doing if I didn’t get in that car.”
He told the full story in his essay, about the time he nearly gave up baseball as a 7-year-old after getting hit by pitches three or four games in a row. He decided right there at first base that he was done with baseball, and when it came time to leave home for the next game, Alecia Yelich found her son in his room, arms folded, his uniform sitting on his dresser.
She convinced him to play.
“That’s a true story,” Yelich said. “I was pretty much over the whole baseball thing at that point. I was going to go play football or basketball. I was out. After that, everything changed for some reason, and here we are, talking to you guys.” (MLB.com)
June 27, 2019: Outfield NL- Christian Yelich, Brewers (1st ASG start): Yelich has been on one of the hottest stretches in recent memory—a run that began following last year's All-Star Game, when he was a first-time All-Star as a reserve for the NL and homered off Charlie Morton in the eighth inning.
Since the second half of last season, Yelich has homered 54 times in 139 games, and his 29 homers this year have him on pace to chase 60. Yelich is the Major League leader in home runs, slugging percentage (.719) and total bases (200), and to top it all off, he's just off the NL lead in steals (17). His 930,577 total votes led all NL finalists. June 28, 2019: Yelich not only earned a chance to start the 2019 All-Star Game, he was the NL’s overall leader in votes.
“You never expect to lead the entire National League in votes, but it's really cool and I’m definitely excited to be a part of the All-Star Game,” Yelich said. “I'm definitely looking forward to getting to Cleveland and having some fun.”
Christian got into business in downtown Milwaukee, investing along with teammate Ryan Braun in a Wisconsin Ave. real estate venture. Both players are investors in The Avenue, a project that includes a food hall, apartments, and office and retail space in the former Shops of Grand Avenue.
“We started talking about it about two months ago,” Yelich said. “The more I become involved with things like this, it becomes more intriguing. You want it to do well. You want your city to do well. This was the type of thing that, once we started talking about it, it's something we became passionate about and wanted to see all the way through.” (McCalvy - mlb.com - 8/13/19)
June 2010: The Marlins chose Yelich in the first round, the 23rd player overall, out of Westlake High School in Westlake Village, California. He signed on the August 16 deadline with scout Tim McDonnell for a bonus of $1.7 million.
March 18, 2015: The Marlins and Yelich agreed on a seven-year, $49.5 million contract. The deal also includes a club option for an eighth year.
- January 25, 2018: The Brewers sent OF Lewis Brinson, SS Isan Diaz, OF Monte Harrison, and RHP Jordan Yamamoto to the Marlins; acquiring Yelich.