ST. PETERSBURG -- Chelsa Messinger, the weekday sports anchor at the CBS television affiliate in Fort Myers, is no stranger to being around baseball players or major sporting events. But Saturday's game between the Rays and the Astros represented something much more significant than anything she had ever covered.
The game marked the Major League debut of Astros pitcher Jake Buchanan, who dated Messinger for more than five years before they were married in January. She had to drive only about 110 miles to see her husband for the first time in two months.
"It couldn't have worked out any better," she said. "The fact that his start is here as opposed to Seattle on a Tuesday or something, I feel like it was meant to be. It's been a long time coming, and I think a lot of people never would have guessed he would have gotten called up this year, especially with all the prospects in the Houston system."
Messinger said she cried for 30 minutes when she found out early Friday her husband got the callup from Triple-A. She was at Tropicana Field on Saturday with friends Eric Downs and Preston Tyson and Buchanan's parents, Buck and Sonda Buchanan. His sister, Amanda, and his niece, Tenley, were also on hand.
Buchanan, an eighth-round Draft pick in 2010, met Messinger in a dining hall at North Carolina State, where they were both athletes. She was a swimmer and a political science major who eventually got sidetracked in a journalism career.
"It's nice that we have careers that we all move around a lot," she said. "We have kind of similar paths almost. I have to move up every two years, and he likes to move up every year. He made it to the big leagues before me."
The big leagues for Messinger represents a job with a national network or in a Top 25 media market. She previously covered ACC baseball in North Carolina and knows her sports, breaking down the top prospects in the Astros system.
"I thought for sure they'd call up Trop or Folty," she said, referring to Nick Tropeano and Mike Foltynewicz, rated the Nos. 16 and 5 prospects in the Astros' system by MLB.com. "I feel like [Buchanan] has really had to work his way up and prove people wrong. He was drafted by the old regime, and it made him prove himself. He had the lowest ERA in the Cape Cod League above Chris Sale and some big-time guys like that, and he still got drafted in the eighth round because he doesn't throw 103 [mph]."
Surprisingly, Messinger and Buchanan don't talk much baseball when they are together, though she does urge her husband to try to open up more when talking to reporters.
"He's a really introverted person," she said. "He could pitch the best game of his life and be very even-keeled and not think it's a big deal. On the flip side, he'll pitch a bad game and not be bothered by it. He's not emotional on the mound, and that really helps."