My First Love
Baseball has been in my life since around the time I could pick up a stick. Since that moment, I’ve been captured by the idea that you can be a hero in a uniform by playing a competitive game.
There’s just something about the crack of solid contact with a wooden bat, or the slap of a hot fastball as it hits the catcher’s mitt. Even the disappointments – like the pitcher being pulled in the middle of an inning, or a player’s reaction after he wasn’t able to bring in his teammates when they’re in scoring position – add to the overall greatness that is baseball.
Every win is unique in it’s own way. Have there ever been two wins that were exactly the same? I would argue that has never been the case. Every game brings new trials, new victories, and new saviors. Those three hours between the lines is just enough time to contract the lead role in a heroic tale, if you’re up for it.
Will you come through when your team needs you the most?
But that question extends beyond the small game: baseball is the truest teacher of life in so many ways. That is the reason I play the game.
Years later, as I continue playing in the minor leagues as a pitcher in the Texas Rangers organization, I am still learning new life principles that continue to build a foundation for success off the field as well as on it.
The greatest lesson I’ve learned:
“You cannot let failure destroy the will to pursue what you’re passionate about.”
Dying to the Dream
There is a time to die to a dream, and there are times to continue through the pain and discomfort to try and reach the finish. When do you have to die? The answer may be easier than you think, but it requires an immense amount of self-discipline and extreme honesty.
It’s time to die to your dream when the pain is affecting your relationships with those you love most and giving you the feeling that there is no purpose behind your efforts. Earlier this year, I had a close friend give up the pursuit of a major league career after six years in the minor leagues. He was only 26, but knew that his relationships were suffering and that his passion lied elsewhere. He was honest and, even though it was very hard, he is enjoying his new purpose as a mentor and coach.
Baseball, once you gain that itch, never leaves you. Once you play a while, it becomes a part of you. The same way that a plant will extend its roots where it is planted, a player will grow deeper and deeper roots the longer he plays the game.
If you’re going to do anything in this life just do it with passion. The act itself may not bring the desired result, but the journey you are embarking on should encompass many of your passions.
Every journey is unique. Baseball is a game where anything can happen. Routine ground balls can give up a World Series title. One pitch can change the entire game. Checking out mentally and missing a sign can take away an easy out. In a place where anything can happen, every seemingly small detail matters.
Pay attention to what you’re doing and listen to your heart. What’s it telling you? What is your why? Is the game you’re in now the game you want to be in?
In the same way a pitcher can step off to gather himself, so you can take a step back and evaluate yourself. Baseball is a teacher of all kinds. It is valuable to me as a person, not only a player.
That’s why I love this game. I love this journey and this grind. I couldn’t see myself doing anything else right now. Maybe the future holds different plans, but for now I’m right where I need to be.
If you don’t feel the same about where you’re at, start listening to your heart. Don’t be rash, but evaluate and decide if you are becoming who you want to be through this process.
As a man much smarter than me once said, “You cannot become in the future what you aren’t becoming today.”
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