I assume there are thousands of kids that hope, dream, aspire, and strive to someday play professional baseball. Right now, they are on a Little League field imitating the swing of their favorite Big Leaguer...envisioning themselves turning on an inside fastball and hitting it 450 feet at Fenway Park. They are playfully daydreaming about jogging from the bullpen at Yankee Stadium...rearing back and throwing a 99 MPH fastball to punch out the best hitter in all of baseball.
Not too long ago, I was one of those kids. At times, to this day, as a grown man - I have to pinch myself to wake up from daydreams similar to the ones above. This game is an addiction. I am not a doctor that has data to prove the realness of baseball's addictive nature, but I have been working towards my PHD in the game of baseball. I played my first "organized" game at 5 years old, and the past 23 years I have been blessed in many ways through the game: I earned a paycheck to play this game at the professional level, I earned a paycheck to teach and inspire as a college baseball coach, and I am now earning a paycheck from a baseball based business I started just over a year ago. To say the least, thus far - the game has treated me better than most.
To the young kids in this game, this is what I want you to understand:
At times, the game of baseball will not be fair. When you strike out in a big spot: it will rip your heart out. When you put in extra work and still can't crack the starting lineup: it will make you cry. When you don't make the varsity team: it will embarrass you. At some point, you may feel like you are in a constant state of being humbled...as if you are living in a world of baseball that you can't do anything right. The truth of these moments: the REAL value of baseball is never and has never been found in the results...recollections of results have an expiration date.
For example, do you know what my batting average was my freshman year in high school? ...You don't know?! Well, I don't know either. Neither do my teammates. Nor my high school coaches. Because with enough time - the results become insignificant. It's the lessons within the results that are timeless.
The struggle you will experience in the game of baseball is a disguised opportunity for betterment. This opportunity may wear a disguise that scares you or makes you feel like crap, but the sooner you rip that mask from the face of opportunity and expose it for what it really is, the better.
So...for all the kids in the process of creating their dream: forget the results. Get lost in building friendships with your teammates. Dive for balls that are just out of your reach. Swing as hard as you can on a 3 and 0 count. Have the courage to try to turn a double into a triple. Worry less, and laugh more. And never stop learning!
Best of luck to those kids who dream big and act bigger.
- Randall Thompson
Founder, Thompson Mug Co. creators of the Dugout Mug™