Zack Gelof

Gelof shares funny MLB call-up story, reflects on early A's success

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Programming note: Brodie Brazil's full "All A's" interview with Zack Gelof will air at 3 p.m. PT Tuesday on NBC Sports California, and again at 9:30 p.m. PT.

Every minor league baseball player dreams of the day they’re summoned to their manager’s office and sent packing to the show.

But Zack Gelof's reality looked much different, as his Athletics call-up story was not prototypical by any means.

In talking to NBC Sports California's Brodie Brazil during a recent episode of “All A’s,” the 24-year-old infielder shared his hilarious call-up story while expressing gratitude for how well his early MLB days went. 

“It’s a funny story,” Gelof teased. “So I feel like when you get the call-up, it’s always going to be in your manager’s office in Triple-A, all your teammates bombarding you, it gets posted on X or Twitter, or whatever. My experience was not like that. 

“It was over [the 2023 MLB] All-Star break. I had just flown home to be with the family -- Jake [Gelof] had just gotten drafted [to the Los Angeles Dodgers], so that was craziness. I [was] also on West Coast time, so I’m sleeping in until 11, 11:30 -- that’s not like me. [I’m] in my boxers, I roll over, my phone is dead, I plug it in [and] wake up at 11:30 and I got like five missed phone calls and text messages from Fran Riordan, our [Las Vegas Aviators] manager. 

“So, I was like, ‘All right. C’mon, man. This has to be it.’ [I] immediately roll over and call [Fran]. I’m like, ‘Hey Fran, how’s it going.’ He’s beating around the bush a little bit, asking how I’m doing and I think I said, ‘I’m wearing the Dodgers hat all the time, but don’t worry, I’m not getting used to it.’ And he finally saw his chance and was like, ‘All right. Well, good because you’re going to be wearing the A’s hat on Friday against the [Minnesota] Twins.’ ”

The jet-lagged Gelof did not receive the Gatorade bath and endless high-fives from teammates and coaches as he expected, but he has a unique memory that he was fortunate enough to share with his family.

“Being able to share that moment with my family and rundown together was pretty cool,” Gelof added. “It would’ve been nice to have shared that moment with teammates, but … everything happens for a reason.”

Gelof hit the ground running after being called to the majors.

He wasted no time getting his first base hit, launching an RBI double off the top of the right-field wall at Oakland Coliseum in his MLB debut against the Twins on July 14.

The Virginia product continued to shine, earning AL Rookie of the Month for August after slashing 286/.350/.562 with eight doubles, seven home runs and 15 RBI across 27 games.

He also became the fastest A’s player to reach 10 home runs after doing so in 35 games. Twelve-time All-Star Mark McGwire took 41 games, for reference. 

Gelof would cool off to wrap up his rookie season, which he believes is key to his approach to the 2024 MLB season.

“Yeah, what I’m thankful for is I think it was enough of a sample size for me to go through ups and downs,” Gelof added. “You know, it easily could’ve been after August and getting [AL] Rookie of the Month. If the season ended there, I would’ve ended on a super high note thinking ‘Oh, I have to have these certain numbers.’ 

“But for me, I’m just thankful to get enough games where I could go through the ups and then go went through a small spurt, and then knowing to just stick to my routine and stay confident. You know, just taking it day by day, and having success with that.”

After struggling to begin this season, Gelof is bound to take off -- the 24-year-old has proven he’s capable of dominating at the highest level.

But for now, Gelof doesn’t mind being a youngster going through infamously dreaded growing pains. He takes the approach of both an early-career ballplayer and a seasoned veteran, utilizing the best qualities of each world.

“I think it’s good and important to keep that energy of just being a young kid playing baseball,” Gelof concluded. “But then also, getting your work in to be on the field and being ready to compete at seven o’clock. That’s something I’m going to continue to do.

“But you always have to have fun, and that’s something I want to continue to have until I’m done playing, which hopefully is in a long time.”

Gelof will have plenty of time to have fun in the big leagues.

As Oakland’s 60th pick in the 2021 MLB Draft, the A’s confidently expect Gelof to be a key piece to the team’s future -- and he has looked the part, too.

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