Surprise! Cubs' LaHair an All-Star

If it were a movie, it would be rejected as being too sappy.

You know this kind of story: Kid gets drafted in the 39th round, endures nine years of bus rides in the minor leagues, is told twice by teams to find other jobs, and then -- at age 29 -- he makes an All-Star team.

Not just any All-Star team. The only one that counts.

Does it warm your heart? Then imagine how Bryan LaHair must feel, because it just happened to him.

"It gives you chills," he said.

In a Sunday morning meeting, in which Cubs manager Dale Sveum announced to his team that LaHair had fulfilled every kid's dream, the last decade flashed through his mind.

"You get a chance to quickly reflect -- I'm sure I'll reflect more later on," said LaHair, "(at) all the work you put in and the adversity you've been through and (the) different adventures you've had along the way to get your first opportunity in the big leagues.

"And then making the All-Star team is really incredible."

He will be shown the All-Star ropes next week in Kansas City by teammate Starlin Castro. He was selected for the second year in a row -- at age 22.

"I'll take him with me," Castro said with a laugh.

Yes, Sunday was one of the strangest days in All-Star history.

Consider that LaHair was chosen by fellow players and coaches to be a reserve first baseman, a position he has ceded to 22-year-old Anthony Rizzo.

And then consider that he wasn't even playing his new position, right field, Sunday because he has been benched against left-handers.

Yes, LaHair's selection day was spent in the Cubs' dugout. But it was a major league dugout, not some minor league outpost, and that's what counts.

He is an inspiration for every minor leaguer who ever considered quitting. Fairy tales can come true.

"It's such a great day," he said. "There's a lot running through my mind, it's a really great feeling."

It was a great feeling for anyone who has persevered in a sport that can be so unkind. And Sveum, who spent 15 years in the minors and majors without an All-Star appearance, knows a good story -- sappy or not -- when he sees it.

"It was one of those special times as a manager ... to be able to tell a kid 30 years old that he's making the All-Star team after spending so much time in the minor leagues," he said. "It's one of those special stories that comes around once in a while.

"That's what we live for in this game, those special moments, because there's so many negative things that we have to endure in this game."

dvandyck@tribune.com Twitter @davandyck

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