I am a baseball person. I am a diehard Red Sox fan, I play on the club team here at BC, and I even blog about it. I watch it, play it, and write about it. I think those are the three characteristics of a true fanatic, emphasis on the addict. Where I am today in regards to baseball is not indicative of the sequence of events that lead me to find this passion for the sport. There have been twist, turns, and even 15 car collisions along the way. While the road has been anything but smooth, the rough patches have helped foster my passion for this sport.
It all began with tee ball at the age of 6 years old. My dad was the coach of the team and we donned the black and silver jerseys of the Colorado Rockies. Mind you, this wasn’t your typical tee ball league since the coach of your team would pitch to you unless you struck out, and then you got a chance to hit off the tee. I remember this one time when my dad laid a pitch right into my wheelhouse. My eyes widened and I put every inch of my 4 foot nothing frame into the pitch and sent it directly up the middle, straight into my father’s testicles. Subconsciously I may have decided that I didn’t want a brother or sister so I proceeded to incapacitate any possible outcomes of that occurring.
Transitioning into little league, I was beginning to really fall in love with the sport. I’m not sure how it was for anyone else, but in my hometown, the majors were about as primetime as baseball got. I mean on the main field there were lights, nice fences, bullpens, and stands around home plate and the outfield. There were even trades of players and this “protection” system for younger kids for the major league teams where they had your playing rights for two years. Think of it as an indentured servitude for the best 9 year olds. Naturally, the Cardinals protected me when I was 9 and after paying my dues in the minors, yes there was a minor league farm system, I would be rocking the super fly red button down jersey with the stitched letters and numbers. But remember that whole rough patch part I mentioned earlier? I did not make the team that year. It’s incredible how vivid some memories are but I can perfectly recall the sinking feeling when I found out. It happened at the field literally right down the street from my house and I cried the entire walk home. I was not going to be a major league baseball player.
Now fast-forward about 6 years to when I am 15 years old. I had started playing in an inner city league that was sponsored by the Red Sox and was fortunate enough to make the all-star team to compete in a regional tournament in Jersey. After going undefeated, we played the regional championship in Yankee stadium. Yes, that Yankee stadium and playing whom else but the team sponsored by the Yankees. The Red Sox actually sent someone to deliver authentic spring training jerseys for us so that we could look the part against the timeless rivalry of Red Sox v. Yankees. I remember the pure excitement of warming up on the same field as the best players in the world and sitting in the same dugout as my favorite player, Dustin Pedroia, while also wearing his same number. For this brief moment in time, I was no different than a major league baseball player.
There are three types of people in this world and they can all be judged in the moment after striking out. There’s the guy who throws his bat and helmet after a swinging miss, the one who argues with the umpire over a called third strike, and the one who hustles back to the dugout to grab a hat and glove in preparation to take the field. In baseball, success is really only a minor victory. The failures along the way have truly helped me develop into the person I am today.