Wyatt Langford mania hits Tampa 

Wyatt Langford takes batting practice before Monday's game in St. Petersburg.
Wyatt Langford takes batting practice before Monday's game in St. Petersburg.
Photo by J.C. Derrick

ST. PETERSBURG—When Wyatt Langford stepped into the batter’s box at Tropicana Field on Monday night, a chant echoed in the domed stadium.  

“Let’s go, Wyatt!” 

“Let’s go, Wyatt!” 

Become A Member

Mainstreet does not have a paywall, but pavement-pounding journalism is not free. Join your neighbors who make this vital work possible.

A group of more than 50 Florida Hardballers baseball players and their families left no doubt about who they came to see. Seated down the third base line, the boys cheered, snapped photos and waved signs when Langford came up to bat and trotted out to left field.  

Monday’s Tampa Bay Rays matchup was Langford’s first road game as a member of the Texas Rangers—but it was more like a home game for the Trenton native who drew scores of friends, family, former teammates and coaches down I-75 to Tropicana Field.  

Wyatt Langford talks to reporters Monday outside the Texas Rangers clubhouse in Tampa.
Photo by J.C. Derrick A group of Florida Hardballers root for Langford during Monday’s game.

“Even going back to my time at Florida, I always had a ton of people come to watch games, and now I feel like it’s blown up even more,” Langford, 22, said in an interview. “It’s really, really cool.” 

To say Langford’s story has “blown up” is no exaggeration. After starring at Trenton High School and the University of Florida, Langford went fourth overall in the 2023 Major League Baseball draft last July.  

While the Rangers were on a run to their first World Series title, Langford was burning through every level of the minor leagues in just 44 games—hitting .360 with 10 home runs, 30 RBI and a Mike Trout-esque 1.157 OPS.  

Langford’s numbers hovered in the same stratosphere during big league spring training: six home runs, a league-best 20 RBIs and a 1.137 OPS in 21 games. The Rangers rewarded Langford with a starting role in their title defense.  

According to mlb.com’s Jim Callis, only two position players in major league history had made an Opening Day roster with fewer games in the minors—and neither club was coming off a World Series victory.  

“Pretty impressive,” manager Bruce Bochy said of the way Langford handled the pomp and circumstance surrounding the Rangers opening series in Texas, which included a championship ring ceremony Saturday night. “He’s so humble, but confident. Everything we’ve thrown at him, from Day 1 of spring training through that first series—I’ve loved how he’s handled everything.” 

That includes numerous interviews, as Langford profiles bounce all over the internet. A headline on mlb.com read: “College to Opening Day in 280 days: How Wyatt Langford rocketed to the Rangers.”  

Wyatt Langford signs a poster before Monday's game in Tampa.
Photo by J.C. Derrick Wyatt Langford signs a poster before Monday’s game in St. Petersburg.

On Monday, Langford spent a few minutes before batting practice talking with a group of reporters about not just baseball, but how many deer he has killed (30 to 40) and going fishing on the Suwannee River and in the Gulf. Reporters asked questions about Trenton’s location, population, and whether it had a Home Depot.  

“No, we’ve got a McDonald’s,” Langford said with a smile. “It’s small. One red light.”  

The way Langford handles himself was a key attraction for the Rangers, according to General Manager Chris Young. The club scouted Langford’s on-field skills and also “in the weeds” details, such as the way he hit in the cage and interacted with his teammates.  

Young said a particular moment in the SEC Tournament stuck in his memory.  

“He hit a popup on the infield, I think it was to second base, and by the time he caught it, Wyatt was standing on second base,” Young said. “I thought, ‘I love the way he plays the game.’ Because if he plays hard like that, he’s doing everything else with the same intensity. I felt like it spoke to his character, and I felt like he was a fit for what we were looking for.” 

Langford’s character was a common theme in interviews with friends and family. His father-in-law, former Trenton softball coach Todd Bryant, said Langford impressed him with respectful behavior from an early age.  

“He was always a gentleman,” said Bryant, who sat behind home plate wearing a Langford jersey. “He would come in the house, hug my wife, then come shake my hand. He’d bring [Hallie] home, same thing… His parents have done a great job. It shows.” 

Both of Langford’s parents made the trip to Tampa after watching the Rangers season-opening series in Texas, where Langford went 4-for-12 with a triple and three RBI. Neither had time to return home to Trenton before Monday’s game.  

“It’s just hard to put in words,” said Michael Langford, who coached his son through high school and played a major role in his development. “You look out here, and it’s like it’s not real.” 

The elder Langford said it’s especially meaningful to see the impact his son is having on younger players.  

John Colacci, owner and co-founder of the Hardballers, a travel baseball club Langford played with from 2015 to 2020, agreed. 

“He has an impact, being from Trenton,” said Colacci, who brought another group of nearly 50 players and family members to Tuesday’s game. “It impacts Gainesville, Lake City, Ocala, Chiefland, Trenton, Dixie, Williston… Kids that look up to him as a Gator, and as a local, it gives them opportunity, gives them hope. There’s not a lot of kids from those areas that make it to the big leagues.” 

Wyatt Langford talks to reporters Monday outside the Texas Rangers clubhouse in Tampa.
Photo by J.C. Derrick Wyatt Langford talks to reporters Monday outside the Texas Rangers clubhouse in St. Petersburg.

Langford admitted to reporters that the whole experience has been “surreal.” But no moment has appeared to be too much for him, even as he’s discussed as an early frontrunner for Rookie of the Year.  

In his first five games, he’s flashed his power, speed and arm strength, while stringing together a five-game hitting streak to start his career.  

He said being a major league baseball player has been everything he hoped it would be.  

“It’s an awesome feeling,” he said. “It’s definitely lived up to the expectations.” 

Enjoying our local sports coverage? Get Mike Ridaught's twice weekly sports newsletter in your inbox.
Sports Newsletter Form
Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Gary Nelson

I’m so glad I had the opportunity to watch this young man play at Florida. It’s a wonder he had time to unpack during a meteoric trip through the minors to the starting lineup for the defending world champs. Let’s go, Wyatt!

Terry hoyt

Three other team missed out


Tropicana Field is not in Tampa.