Greetings again Cup Check Nation!
Anyone who has seen me pitch knows I’m very superstitious. I wear the same clothes every 5th day on my scheduled start, listen to the same song (Mark Morrison – Return of the Mack) and do the same thing in between each inning. I toe the rubber each inning and I look over my right shoulder then the left, it was a habit I started at a young age to make sure my defense was ready and has just carried on ever since. Every time I do it I can’t help but think about how bad my old teammates would love to be the ones standing behind me, putting it on the line for me.
Most people think I’m living the dream, but in reality I’m just chasing it. Having spent some years in the Minor Leagues, I’ve learned a lot about myself as a ball player and as a person. On those long bus trips most people sleep or play cards or watch movies. I like to listen to music and think about different things in my life and write down some things on my handy new iPad mini.
I found myself wondering what I would be doing if I didn’t choose this path in my life. Now 5 years on this “grind” of Minor League baseball, I would be done with high school and thrown into the real world working a 9-5 behind a desk staring out the window. Who knows what my life would of turned into if I would have chosen to go to college.
No matter how much of a “grind” each and every day can be, I now know what pushes me. It’s my family and friends and everyone that has been behind me since day 1, since before travel ball or before high school. They are all behind the little boy that fell in love with this beautiful game and never looked back or never let anyone tell him he couldn’t make it. They are that extra gear, that kick in the butt on those days when you just don’t feel like giving it your all.
Family is always first, no matter what you are doing in life. Part of the reason I am where I am today is for my family, especially my parents and my brother. Traveling every weekend out of town to play in all of my AAU tournaments. All the money that went into gas, hotel rooms, food, buying weekend passes for the tournament, taking off work and putting up with me and the rest of my teammates that were constantly on cloud 9 living it up in hotels. It’s a relief to know that it all wasn’t a waste of time, I was doing what I loved and it has led me to make a career out of it.
I’ve come to realize that each day I get out of bed (off my foam pad on the ground, then try not to nail my head on the chandelier that hangs down since I sleep in the living room) and I get to head to the baseball field and play a game that I’ve loved more than anything since I can remember. Having an older brother who would roll me a baseball and teach me how to throw it across the kitchen floor back to him since before I could even walk, was instrumental in developing my early passion for the game.
He would drag me outside to play stick ball until the sun went down, day in and day out. I would get demolished but I always thought maybe tomorrow I’d beat him, but it never would happen. He was fortunate enough to play ball after high school and have 4 very successful years in college. He never had the opportunity to play professionally, but now he has the chance to live it through me. I try to give him that to the best of my ability.
Aside from the invaluable lessons I learned from my brother, I learned how to grow up and mature at a much younger age than most. Since their was only one travel baseball team in my hometown when I was nine years old I had to play two years up (with ten and eleven year olds). I had to learn how to accept failure and how to deal with really struggling in all aspects of baseball. Our team played together for a good 6 to 7 years and then into high school as well, we were a family. Most of them still remain my best friends, we talk on a regular basis and I give them a ton of credit for my early development. I know how much this game meant to all of us growing up, traveling every weekend and spending every minute together. It’s almost selfish for me to be one of the few that gets to still play this game and not think of it as a full time job.
So when people ask me how I push through each and everyday, how I manage those long bus rides, poor diet, lack of sleep and going 30+ consecutive days and nights with no off days, all I think about is how bad my brother or just one of my friends would love to trade places with me. How truly blessed and fortunate I am to be where I am today.
So, when I toe the rubber each outing, I look over each shoulder and think of those guys right behind me.That’s what pushes me day in and day out.
Until next time, have a great off season and protect the goods!