This article is meant to do one thing — inspire.
I played high school baseball in Massachusetts. I didn’t play travel baseball. I wasn’t the best player on my high school team. I didn’t make the Varsity until I was a Junior. I didn’t start my first high school game. There were times I hit seventh in the lineup. I made the American Legion team for the first time after my junior season — and never played.
I didn’t get noticed or taken seriously by a Division I school until the summer after my senior year. I had already committed to a Division II school. I was hitting .180 half way through my freshman year of college. I didn’t get into a real summer league, until after my junior year of college. I had to basically beg to get on the team.
I didn’t get drafted. I didn’t sign as a free agent after the draft. I signed with an Independent ball team and got released after about ten days. I played in that league for seven years.
I’m telling you all these thing because any one of them usually derails people from believing that they can accomplish something special in the game. Any one of them can allow self doubt to creep in. Any one of them can make you believe you’re not worthy.
I’m writing to tell you this: There’s only one person that can decide that for you. That person is you.
Life can be funny sometimes. When you’re growing up, you start dreaming about things you want to be when you grow up. People give you all kinds of different responses when you tell them what you want to do with your life.
They’ll say things like, “Oh that’s wonderful… If you work really hard, you can accomplish anything.” When the reality of it is, they think it’s just a pipe dream. At least they have the courtesy to not try and derail you.
Or maybe they’re cynics and tell you, “Well, not many people get to do that, so you might want to think about having a backup plan.” Maybe they mean it with the best of intentions. Maybe they’re trying to help you not get let down, if you don’t make it. Or maybe they’re just haters.
It’s coming at you from every direction. Friends, family, peers, teammates, coaches, scouts, and so on. You hear the good stuff and it can motivate you. But then the negative messages come in. They hit home and they linger. They can derail you. They tend to last the longest.
Here’s the hard part: realizing that everything those people are telling you doesn’t matter. It doesn’t mean anything. Zero. Nothing. Everything around you is just noise. Good, bad, or indifferent.
The people that are telling you how great your aspirations are, forget to tell you how hard it will be to navigate your way through all the negative stuff that surrounds you. They forget to tell you that no matter how hard you work, sometimes you’ll still get overlooked. They forget to tell you that there will be people that won’t believe in you, no matter how good you become.
What matters is what you think. What you believe. What you see. What you feel. What you want. And what you’re going to do when the world around you keeps telling you that you’re still on the outside looking in.
You decide who you are every day. You decide how you wake up in the morning. You decide how you go to sleep at night, and everything in between. If you use the time in between to try and get better everyday, the sky is the limit.
It doesn’t matter where you were yesterday. The only thing that matters is where you will be tomorrow.
Figure out how to use every day to get better. It’s the only thing that matters.
Oh and by the way, I started every game after that first one my junior year of high school. I led my Legion team in hitting the summer after my senior year. I became a three time First team All-Conference player in college. After I begged my way on to an NECBL team that summer, I became a mid-season and post-season All Star. I signed with an affiliated team after those seven years of Indy ball. I got to the Big Leagues a year later. After getting sent down to the minors a half a dozen times, two years later, I was in the middle of one of the best offenses in baseball, playing in the ALCS.
Because I knew that’s where I belonged, no matter how much the world around me told me I didn’t.