Brandon Nimmo's selection in MLB's First-Year Player Draft and eventual signing with the New York Mets on Monday was unprecedented for a high school baseball player coming out of Wyoming.
In the days, and minutes, before Monday's signing deadline, there were moments of excitement, uncertainty and ultimately, relief for the Cheyenne product. Nimmo signed with the Mets organization for $2.1 million.
He had three minutes to spare.
Monday, Aug. 8, Cheyenne, one week to the signing deadline
"The process ended Aug. 15, but certainly started long before then." — Chad MacDonald, Director of Scouting, New York Mets
Chad MacDonald only requested one thing of Brandon Nimmo when the two met one week before the signing deadline.
"I said, ‘Whatever your decision is, I'll be respectful of it, but I want to hear it from your voice. We drafted you, we didn't draft your mom and dad,'" the Mets' director of scouting recalled of that trip to the Nimmo's family home in Cheyenne.
"And I think the world of his mom and dad, they're terrific people and they've been terrific parents. I like his agent, I like that firm, they're good guys, but I didn't draft them either.
"We drafted him, so I just asked him, ‘Hey, one way or the other, I want to hear it from you.' And he said, ‘I agree.'"
It sounds simple enough, but there is more to the decision than just a "Yes" or "No". For some draftees, the decision isn't difficult. But for first-round selections like Nimmo, there could be millions of dollars at stake. Or a college career, specifically at the University of Arkansas.
"They talked about their plan with me, what they were thinking about doing," Nimmo said of the presentation. "And then they wanted to get a little more feel for where we were.
"It was real informative, you know, just making sure we had all the information we needed."
Thursday, Aug. 11, New York, four days to the signing deadline
"It was a good trip; the first time that me and my dad had gone to New York." — Nimmo
Nimmo and his father, Ron, flew to New York the Thursday before the signing deadline to meet some of the Mets' front office personnel and to take a preliminary physical.
It also included a meet and greet with Mets' owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon.
"While we were down there, we caught a game and met the Wilpons," Nimmo recalled, noting that they talked about the family atmosphere of the organization. "I really like those guys, really enjoyed their company."
Nimmo also met general manager Sandy Alderson, one of the men behind his selection at No. 13 overall in June's MLB Draft, and then finally Mets third baseman David Wright and manager Terry Collins in the clubhouse.
Monday, Aug. 15, 5 a.m. MDT, Cheyenne (17 hours to deadline)
The Nimmos — Ron, wife Patti and Brandon — left Cheyenne for Denver International Airport. They arrived at about 7:30 a.m. They sat around for a bit and waited for their 9:20 a.m. flight after going through security.
Upon their arrival in Chicago, the Nimmos took a taxi service to agent Tom Little's SFX offices in the northern Chicago suburb of Northbrook, Ill.
"Real nice part of town," Nimmo said of Northbrook, as they arrived around 1:30 p.m. local time. "Then we went ahead and met everyone in the office, had lunch. We had fajitas.
"After that, we sat around, heard the kind of the rumors going around of what people thought people were going to get."
Aug. 15, 11 a.m., San Diego (nine hours to deadline)
The Mets' brain trust — Alderson (who maintains a residence in San Diego), MacDonald, vice president Paul DePodesta, assistant general manager John Ricco and scouting coordinator Ian Levin — holed up in a hotel suite to begin the process of signing the team's remaining draft picks.
The Mets were in town for the start of a series with the Padres and MacDonald was also in southern California for showcase events.
"As we were meeting with our staff there in San Diego ... the timing of it was great," MacDonald said. "[We] had a suite there at the hotel and we're going through different scenarios. We needed to have ... a ‘Plan B' in place if Brandon didn't want to sign."
Nimmo wasn't the only player the Mets were working to sign, though. The organization had come to terms earlier in the day with 16th-rounder Bradley Marquez and then signed 15th-rounder Phillip Evans about three hours after Marquez.
MacDonald said the team in San Diego had meetings and conference calls with ownership back in New York throughout the day. But the real work began as the clock started to tick away the final minutes.
"We had a few balls in the air," MacDonald said. "It came down to, really, the last 15 minutes. That's when you know people's decisions; whether they're on board or not on board."
Aug. 15, approximately 6:30 p.m., Chicago
To pass time, the Nimmos took a walk, checked into their hotel and Brandon took about an hour long nap to "get rested."
Dinner time rolled around and the Nimmos, along with Little, ate that night at P.F. Changs before they returned to the SFX office around 9 p.m. local time.
"We hadn't heard anything from the Mets," Nimmo said. "Tom was a little bit confused, he thought we would hear something by [then]."
They weren't alone among the remaining draft picks.
"Everyone was that way," Nimmo said. "Everyone was pretty much being not talked to. We heard that was an order down, kind of a suggestion, from the commissioner's office.
"We just sat there and kind of wondered if they'd call. We were actually talking about Arkansas at the end and ... what I was going to do. I was already registered for classes. The conversation kind of turned to whether or not they were going to call."
Aug. 15, 9:36 p.m. (24 minutes to deadline)
@SI_JonHeyman (Jon Heyman, Sports Illustrated writer): #mets closing in on deal with nimmo
Aug. 15, 9:41 p.m. (19 minutes to deadline)
@garystriewski (CBS 5 sports director, Cheyenne): Ron Nimmo just told me they've been waiting with no word yet from #nymets... said,"nothing to report, this thing is gonna go to midnight."
Aug. 15, 9:49 p.m. (11 minutes to deadline)
@ttlsportsblog (Scott Ilowite, blogger): could you imagine the backlash if Nimmo doesn't get signed? #mets
Aug. 15, 9:49 p.m. (11 minutes to deadline)
Brandon recalled how with about 15 minutes to go, they started talking about Arkansas.
Then Brandon's cell phone rang. Ron answered.
"We had some discussions and then Brandon got on the phone and I said, ‘Hey, here it is,'" MacDonald said. "We made a big move up from our initial offer and he certainly made some movement down from his request."
Said Nimmo: "Basically, negotiations went on for eight minutes."
Aug. 15, 9:55 p.m. (five minutes to deadline)
"Brandon, I need to know something. We're five minutes away. If not, we're moving on." -- MacDonald
That was the question before Nimmo as the deadline was minutes away.
"He said, ‘Yes' and here we are," MacDonald said.
"Then we came to a deal of $2.1 [million] and we had three minutes to send it in," Nimmo said. "So we came to a deal with three minutes to go.
"We barely made it. But we made it."
MacDonald said the sides had more or less worked up the contract beforehand and really only needed to "plug in that last number."
"Ian Levin — who's terrific, is really one of the best in the business at his job — had everything lined up," MacDonald said. "We give him the numbers, ‘Boom, boom.' If you don't press ‘send' by [12:00.59 a.m.], it's a moot point."
Nimmo was relieved to finalize the deal.
"It's a little stressful ... because you're making a decision what you're going to do the rest of your life in five minutes," Nimmo said.
Aug. 15, 10:06 p.m.
@keithlaw (Keith Law, ESPN baseball writer): Mets sign Brandon Nimmo for $2.1MM
Aug. 15, 10:41 p.m.
@Mets (official Twitter of the New York Mets): Mets have signed OF Brandon Nimmo of Cheyenne East High School (WY), the 13th overall pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.
Friday, Aug. 19, Viera, Fla.
Nimmo made his professional debut for the Gulf Coast League Mets in a 9-7 win road over the GCL Nationals.
Nimmo batted second as the designated hitter and finished 1-for-6, with a run scored and a strike out. He's set to make his fielding debut in center field today.
"I'm just glad the money part of it is over with," Nimmo said Thursday, the day before his debut. "We came to an agreement and I think both sides are real happy.
"I know we are. Now, I just get to do what I've always dreamed about and have baseball be my job. If you love your job, you never work a day in your life."