After 978 games over 14 Minor League seasons, 13 of them in the same organization, the longtime Tigers farmhand will join the big club as an extra catcher when rosters expand on Wednesday. The club confirmed the move after Tuesday's 4-3 loss to the Twins, ending a quest that has taken up nearly half of St. Pierre's life.
For St. Pierre, the move is a dream finally fulfilled not only after years of trying, but years of questioning whether it would ever happen. The Quebec native began his pro career as a 17-year-old in 1997 with little knowledge of English, but a strong arm and a knowledge of catching. He joined the organization a year before Brandon Inge, the current longest-serving Tigers player, and a year after Alan Trammell retired. He began playing pro ball when current Tigers pitcher Rick Porcello was an 8-year-old.
No current Tigers player has been in the organization longer.
"Just for his determination and persistence to tough it out, I'm very pleased to see him get up here and for the organization to stick with a guy like that and give him a reward," Inge said. "That's awesome. That's a great story."
With the exception of one year in the Brewers organization, where coaches tried to convert him into a pitcher, he has been in the Tigers' system ever since. Now 30, he has made no secret that he kept going for a chance to get to the Majors. He has been a regular with the Tigers in Spring Training, but has never spent a day on the Major League roster.
That is set to change. The Tigers confirmed they will purchase his contract from Triple-A Toledo on Wednesday and have him here in time for that night's game against the Twins. With Gerald Laird still day-to-day with a strained back, it's possible St. Pierre could catch in the game.
"You're very happy for him," team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said. "Sometimes when we take things for granted, when you're around it for somebody like that, it's an absolute thrill of a lifetime, because they've worked so hard to get here, never giving up, battling on a consistent basis. It's great to see a guy like that rewarded. He's earned it. He's had a good year."
St. Pierre received the news just after his first at-bat Tuesday night for Triple-A Toledo. It was a single that raised his average for the Mud Hens to .300. A day earlier, he had a two-homer game to give him 10 home runs on the season between Toledo and Double-A Erie.
When he got word from Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish, he barely knew how to react.
"I felt great, but this hasn't really registered yet," St. Pierre told the Toledo Blade. "I have chill bumps all over. My whole career, I've been working hard to get to the Major Leagues, and now I'm going to be there. I'm speechless."