Mitch Harris graduated from the Naval Academy in 2008 and served his country for a couple years, always trying to keep his pitching arm ready for the day he might be able to come back home and make a go of it in baseball. Yesterday, the 29-year-old relief pitcher made made it to the majors:

WASHINGTON (AP) — During his stint in the Persian Gulf on a Navy carrier, Mitch Harris kept his pitching arm – and his hopes of eventually making it to the majors – in shape by tossing a baseball on the flight deck.

”We actually had a cook … who grew up playing baseball his whole life,” Harris recalled. ”He was about the only person I truly trusted to throw with, because I was scared I’d hurt anybody else.” …

”If you tell yourself you’re not going to be able to do it, you’re setting yourself up for failure. So I told myself the whole time that there was going to be a time where I was going to get a chance to do this,” Harris said. ”And that was the best way to go about it. I’m human. There’s definitely days where I thought there’s no shot, no chance I was going to do this. But here we are.”

He was drafted by the organization in 2008, but served his time in the Navy in the intervening years. It’s really remarkable he was able to make it through the ranks after all that time. For the Win reminds of the last USNA grad to play in the majors:

With outfielder Peter Bourjos bound for three-day paternity leave after the birth of his first child, the Cardinals called up 29-year-old reliever Mitch Harris to join their roster for Tuesday’s game against the Nationals in Washington.

Harris comes with an interesting backstory: He is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, the first to ascend to the big-league ranks since Nemo Gaines made four appearances out of the Washington Senators’ bullpen in 1921.

Best of luck to Harris, who still serves his country in the reserves.

“He just said, ‘You know those days you wondered on the ship if you’d ever make it, all the hard work? What was your end goal?’ ” Harris recalled Tuesday afternoon, before facing the Nationals in D.C. “I said it was to make it to the big leagues. And he said, ‘Well, congratulations, you did it.’ It meant a lot. It’s nice to finally say that the dream has begun to come true.”