Beckham, a former Georgia standout, was going to the major leagues to join the Chicago White Sox. He got the word after Wednesday night's game with Triple-A Charlotte and, after a sleepless night, he caught a 7:15 a.m. flight to Chicago before landing in the starting lineup Thursday afternoon against Oak-land.
Batting eighth and playing third base, he went 0-for-3 in his debut with a strikeout as Chicago was shut out for the eighth time this season, 7-0 by the Athletics.
"I got quite a few texts. I wish they came after a win," Beckham said. "I felt pretty calm up there, as calm as could be. I swung at a couple of bad pitches. I think that came from the anxiety of having my first at-bat in the big leagues."
After his team's third consecutive loss, Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen wasn't in a mood to assess Beckham's first game.
"He struck out, what am I going to say? He was good? That kid's going to be all right," Guillen said. "He's just another player. He had a bad day, just like everyone else."
But Beckham also had an experience he'll never forget when Charlotte manager Chris Chambliss gave him the message Wednesday night that he was on his way to Chicago.
"It's one of those things where you think about it a lot, but you don't really understand what it feels like until you get called up, until they sit you down and say, 'You're going to the big leagues.' It was one of those feelings I will never forget, for sure," Beckham said.
Beckham made the majors 364 days after he was drafted No. 8 overall by Chicago last summer. At 22, he is the fastest White Sox first-rounder to reach the majors since pitcher Alex Fernandez made it in 58 days in 1990. Beckham played in only 59 minor league games.
A shortstop during his career at Georgia, where he was the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year in 2008 and led the Bulldogs to a runner-up finish at the College World Series, Beckham will mostly play third base with the White Sox. He'll also fill in at shortstop and second.
Josh Fields, who was supposed to replace Joe Crede at third, has been inconsistent. Fields, batting .239 with two homers and 55 strikeouts, will be a backup and could also play some first base.
Beckham began the season at Double-A Birmingham and was promoted to Charlotte on May 28. Combined in the two stops, he batted .326 with four homers, 23 doubles and 25 RBI in 45 games.
"We can use him at a lot of different positions," Guillen said. "I'm going to give this kid a great shot to play."