Troy resident reflects on getting called up to big league

By: Mark Vest | Troy Times | Published October 9, 2018

 Jon Berti

Jon Berti

TROY — Jon Berti thought his 2018 baseball season would end the same way all the others had since he was drafted in the 18th round in 2011 by the Toronto Blue Jays — in the minor leagues.

The 2008 Troy High graduate ended his season with the Blue Jays’ Double-A affiliate, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.

After the Fisher Cats won an Eastern League championship Sept. 14, Berti thought that would be a “good way to end the year.”

But then things got even better.

Less than two weeks after winning the title, Berti received the news so many minor leaguers long for: He was being called up.

He eventually learned that aside from a mere call-up, he would be starting at second base and batting ninth when the Blue Jays played the Houston Astros in a home game Sept. 26.

“It’s very rewarding,” Berti said. “It was a tough journey, it was a long journey to get there, but I enjoyed the ride of it. And to be able to share it with my family and friends — I have a great support system — this is just as much about them as it is about me. … It’s been a really cool experience.”

As exciting as getting called up was, Berti’s journey didn’t end there. He made something of his opportunity.

After getting a hit and a standing ovation from Toronto’s fans in his first major league game, Berti went on to collect a hit in each of the Blue Jays’ three remaining games of the season.

All of that came after having some uncertainty as to whether or not he would get his shot to play in the big leagues after a long stint in the minors.

Despite all of the accolades Berti has had in his life — including setting records at Troy, Bowling Green State University and with the Fisher Cats — there was no guarantee that he would get his chance to be a major league player.

“I always believed in myself and my abilities to play in the big leagues, but over the last year or so, with some of the setbacks I had, I started maybe doubting if I would ever get the opportunity to do so,” said Berti, whose dad, Tom, and uncle Danny Schmitz also played minor league baseball. “And that’s when family and friends kind (of) came in and helped support me and encourage me to continue to go and keep doing it, and it paid off. … It just kind (of) goes to show you, if you work hard and try your best to do things the right way, that hopefully, at the end of the day, you get rewarded for it. Fortunately, I was.”

Berti’s journey could be described as a lesson in perseverance. He is in a good position to offer advice to others who may be right on the brink of a breakthrough after chasing a dream for a while.

“I would advise them to keep going, keep working,” Berti said. “If it’s something you truly love and truly want, keep at it because you only get maybe an opportunity or two to really make it happen, and you just got (to) do your best to take advantage of it.”

Berti is the first player that former Troy and current Bloomfield Hills High coach Frank DiVito has ever had go on to play at the major league level.

He said Berti was a “great role model for our younger players at Troy High.”

“Good lesson for younger kids — keep chasing your dream,” DiVito said. “He’s come a long way. Not many kids from around these parts make it to the major leagues. Every level from his freshman year on up, he always made that jump. … He just kept getting better and better.”

After getting called up, things happened so fast that it was challenging for Berti to take it all in. But now that he has had time to reflect, he can appreciate the rare opportunity he had.

And although Berti doesn’t know where he’ll be assigned next year, after getting to experience big league life, he wants more of it.

“Now, having a few days here to kind (of) sit back and relax a little bit, it’s definitely very satisfying, but also very motivating too, where I can’t wait to start preparing for 2019,” Berti said. “It’s just more motivation to (want to) get back and stay longer.”