Darrell Covey listened to the words on the phone, and his body went numb, trying to comprehend the news.
This was the phone call he was expecting from the Milwaukee Brewers, really, the one he had been awaiting since his son first picked up a baseball, telling him that Dylan Covey’s $2.5 million signing bonus as a first-round pick was official.
It would be the first step to a fabulous major-league career, just like the guy drafted one spot ahead of him, Chris Sale.
Instead, the words left him in disbelief.
Type 1 Diabetes. . . . Critically high hemoglobin results. . . . Emergency room.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Covey told USA Today of that day in 2010, the words still painfully leaving his mouth.” I was in an absolute state of shock. We all were.”
Covey jumped into his car, drove to Magic Mountain where his son, Dylan Covey, was celebrating his 19th birthday with friends, grabbed him, and frantically raced to the emergency room.
Dylan Covey, who just a few days earlier underwent his routine physical conducted by the Brewers, was poked, prodded and tested. The results were just as stunning as his physical revealed.
He had been living life as a Type 1
diabetic whose hemoglobin had reached critical levels, and had he not undergone the Brewers’ physical, he could have been dead two weeks later.
“Had he not been diagnosed, and gone out to Arizona in that hot sun,” Darrell Covey says, “he could have gone into diabetic shock.
“That saved his life.”
But it left his immediate baseball future in ruins.
“It was like winning the lottery,” Darrell Covey says, “going to pick up the check, and finding out one of the numbers was wrong.”
Now, seven years after originally being drafted, and watching his college roommate, Kris Bryant, become one of the game’s biggest stars, and Sale establishing himself as one of the game’s elite pitchers, Dylan Covey is on the verge of making his major-league debut.
Covey, 25, living life with an automated insulin pump hooked to his body, made the White Sox’ opening-day roster, and is penciled in as the fifth starter.
The Covey family bought their plane tickets and reserved hotel rooms for the emotional debut, only for Mother Nature to throw yet another wrench into their plans. Covey was originally scheduled to start Saturday against the Twins, but now with two rainouts in the first three days, he may not start for another week.
“Believe me, after everything I’ve gone through,” Covey, 25, says, “this is nothing. I’ve waited such a long time for this. I can wait a little longer.”
Covey was recruited to play for San Diego, but told the Brewers he would sign if they would pay him in excess of the $1.6 million slot value. They agreed to a $2.5 million bonus, but not wanting to upset then-commissioner Bud Selig, decided to wait until the final days before the deadline before finalizing the deal, which required a physical.
And the readings that perhaps saved his life.
He still could have signed with the Brewers at the time, but they wanted to shrink that $2.5 million bonus to $1.6 million after the news. His parents left the decision up to him.
“Money had nothing to do with it,’’ says Darrell Covey, who has a cabinet manufacturing business in La Verne, California. “What was I going to do, jeopardize his life for a couple of million bucks? This was his decision.’’
Covey, who needed insulin shots for two years, slowly regained his pitching prowess. He was drafted again in 2013, this time signing for only $370,000 as a fourth-round pick with the Oakland A’s.
He went to the Arizona Fall League, but when it ended, the A’s told him that he not only wouldn’t be protected on their 40-man roster, but wouldn’t even receive a spring-training invitation. The White Sox decided to take a $100,000 gamble and selected him in the Rule 5 Draft, knowing they would have to keep him on the roster all season or return him to the A’s.
So now, Dylan Covey awaits his chance once again.
“This is the opportunity I’ve been waiting for,” Covey said. “It’s taking a long time, and there were a lot of setbacks along the way, but here I am. And I plan to make the most of it.
“I believe things happen for a reason, and this wait will all be worth it.”
Follow me on Twitter @BNightengale.