ATLANTA — Charlie Culberson’s mom, Kim, said all her son wanted to do since he was five years old was be a baseball player. Over 20 years later, that’s exactly what he’s doing.
Culberson, a utility man for the Colorado Rockies, played at Turner Field over the weekend in a three-game series against the Braves, and his parents, Kim and Charles, and several other family and friends were there to see him up close.
Culberson, a Rome native and former Calhoun High star, made his Rockies debut last July at the exact same stadium, a script that seemed to come right out of a storybook. During his second time around at Turner Field this past weekend, Kim said she still has a hard time believing all that has happened for her son over the past few years.
“He has dreamed this since he was a little kid, and to see him achieve it is unbelievable,” said Kim during the first game of the series on Friday night. “Sometimes I still have to pinch myself because seeing him out there playing in the Majors is incredible. This is all he ever wanted, and he really is living his dream.”
Culberson played in all three games between the Rockies and Braves, starting on both Saturday and Sunday at third base for Colorado. (He came on Friday in the second inning at third, replacing an injured Nolan Arenado.) He had three hits in the series, including a double, and a run scored.
Culberson’s father, Charles, who runs a hitting facility in Rome and is a former Minor-Leaguer himself, said he’s proud to see his son play on the highest level because he knows what it took for him to get there.
“It’s exciting to see him live the dream,” said Charles. “He’s had to make a lot of sacrifices, and to sit here and watch him is exciting for a lot of reasons.”
Culberson was a 2007 supplemental first-round pick of the San Francisco Giants. He made his Major-League debut in 2012 with the Giants, staying with the team for a week before being sent back to Triple-A. Later that season, he went to the Rockies organization in a trade in exchange for Marco Scutaro. He spent the first three-plus months of the 2013 season in Triple-A Colorado Springs, putting up impressive numbers before getting his call-up to the Rockies in July, which happened just in time to join the team for a three-game series in Atlanta, about an hour down the road from where he made his name at Calhoun High.
Culberson’s high school coach Chip Henderson said he knew Charlie was something special after his first few practices for the Jackets.
“Our coaching staff saw Charlie take two ground balls, and after that we knew we had something special in Charlie Culberson,” said Henderson, who led Calhoun to the 2005 state title, which Culberson played a big part in.
“He had the it factor. Even as a high school player, Charlie displayed the proper attitude, the drive and the passion to play the game of baseball. All of this, plus possessing tremendous talent and a relentless work ethic — I knew he would have a future in baseball.”
Henderson added that making it to the big leagues couldn’t have happened to a better person.
“It makes me very proud to see a young man’s dream come true,” said Henderson. “I know how much he loves the game and how hard he has worked to reach the highest level of professional baseball. I tell people all the time, as good as he is on the field, he’s an even better person off the field. He is so deserving of this opportunity.”
Charles said seeing Charlie play in Atlanta is great, but he thinks his son may feel a little added pressure being so close to home.
“We love seeing him play, but I think he puts extra pressure on himself,” said Charles. “I don’t know if he fully relaxes when he plays here. He has such a big support group, and I think he probably tries to do too much. He just wants to make everyone proud.”
The games in Atlanta over the weekend weren’t the first Culberson’s parents, who reside in Plainville, have seen him play this season. Charles traveled to Miami to watch Charlie and the Rockies play against the Marlins in the opening series of the season, and Kim was in Cincinnati a couple weeks ago to see her son against the Reds. They also plan to take a family trip out to Denver at some point this summer to see Charlie play in the Rockies home park, Coors Field.
No matter where they see Charlie play, they’ll know he’s doing what he loves, and what he has loved since he was five.