Speaking a Language We All Understand

In the off-season before my fifth year as a professional baseball player, I woke up on the floor of my grandmother’s basement, defeated. I had made the mistake of reviewing my career numbers and measuring them against the quality of my personal life. The result was a rather sad discovery—the ugly fact that I was a bust as both a player and a person.

I had sacrificed everything to keep my dream of professional baseball alive. In doing so, I had ran out of money, aquired zero love life, falled years behind on my degree, and still had no foreseeable future in baseball. Worst of all, I had no satisfaction. So many years and opportunities spent to reach the top of my childhood dream only to find myself floundering on my grandmother's floor, a failure on my way out of the game.

I didn’t want to go on. In many ways it was self inflicted torture. What was the point? Failing isn't fun. I wasn't a prospect anymore. Getting boiled down into a set of numbers so some fan who's never played beyond tee-ball can tell me—beer in one hand, hotdog in the other—that I sucked was no way to live. I had looked to baseball as my soul source of validation only for it to validate me as a loser. Not even the title of professional baseball player, the title I worked so hard to get, could lessen the sting of the truth.

I had come to a crossroads: the intersection of boyhood dream and adult reality. I wasn’t getting any younger, and my entire life had been dedicated to baseball. So many sacrifices made in it's name. So many experiences missed...

"There comes a point in everyone's life when you have to stop and ask yourself if you're heading in the right direction. Do you fold and walk away with the little you have left, or do you go all in and make them throw you out?"
If I spent years becoming a veterinarian I could always go back to being one if I took a shot at something else and missed. With baseball, there were no second chances and no way back once out. And if I left it, would anyone understand why I did it, or would they just shake their heads at giving up on a chance to play a game for a living?

"One more year," I said to the heavens. "I'm putting it all on the table and If things don't turn around, I'm cutting ties and heading in a new direction. No fear. No regrets."

Ironically it was at this point that my way of looking at life changed. I believe it was Bob Dylan who sang,  “When you ain’t got nothing, you ain’t got nothing to lose.” I'd always thought that was a noble sentiment best left in poetry and verse, but he was right. Why not make some bold moves—what’s the worst that could happen? I was already at rock bottom.
That next season I played the game with the same intensity I always had, but my perspective changed. I stopped being afraid of failure or living for the validation a tumbling white ball could grant. No longer was I worried about being labeled a prospect or having writes ups in the paper. I didn't even worry about getting to the big leagues.

Dreams are funny things, they can fill your life with hope, direction and purpose just as easily as they can lead you merrily down the road to oblivion and desperation. The trick is to master them before they masters you. Down there, on my Grandmothers floor, I realized that I had the power to control my dreams.

That year—which was to be my parting season—I  pitched so well and had so much fun you would have thought I had just learned the game. I was reborn, confident, fearless. And, one year after standing at the edge of my career’s ruin, I was in the big leagues, with a book deal, about to be married to the love of my life.

Now people send me letters to thank me for my writing. Parents pay me to teach their kids how to pitch. Clubs ask me to come speak at their benefit dinners and organizations ask me to share my perspective with their teams. Me, just some average minor leaguer with lack luster career stats, an air mattress, and a notepad. Even as I look back now, I am blown away by what can happen when you let go of your expectations and trust yourself.

Book me for a speaking event and I'll gladly share with you the amazing experiences and stories that changed my perspective, and my life.


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