Sunday, March 22, 2009

What it means to be a collegiate baseball player

As a senior co-Captain of this years baseball team the light at the end of the tunnel is nearing for my baseball career. I have accepted the fact that Major League Baseball is probably not in the cards (Although i was convinced that I would make it until I was about sixteen). I have played the game of baseball since I could walk. I started with games in the front yard with my Dad. I was fortunate enough to be able to play lots of baseball between then and now. I sit here now as a senior in shock that it all must come to and end soon. I would like to offer you some insight about what it means to play baseball and compete at the collegiate level.
I entered this last year of collegiate baseball with the mindset of trying to enjoy every second; the good and the bad. Baseball is a funny game. It is the only game where one can fail seven out of ten times and still be considered great. The game of baseball has offered me more than just the pure excitement of competing on the field for nine innings. Baseball has been a metaphor for life. Baseball is not only about balls and strikes or winning and losing. Baseball teaches one how to be a man. The game is a test. I have learned more from baseball than anything else I have experienced in my life. The game has made me tough, humble, and grateful. Baseball has taught me to never give up. It has prepared me more than anything for the real world.
Many people wonder why we do what we do? What makes the hours of work worth it? What does it mean to be a Division III collegiate baseball player? Athletics at the Division III level are not about taking your game to the professional level. As a collegiate athlete at a demanding academic institution one has to ask himself why he sacrifices hours upon hours practicing and playing. What is the reward for a Division III baseball player?
It is hard to explain this to a non-participant because there is no real glory, no big crowds, and no million dollar contract in sight. For me, the answer is quite simple. "For the love of the game." You have to love it to do what we do on a daily basis.
At the conclusion of this season I might never put a uniform on my back again. I surely won't ever wear the Oberlin College number two jersey again. What gives me solace is the fact that nobody can ever take away my passion and love for the game. Doug Glanville (a former Major League outfielder and NY Times contributor) wrote about the "badge of honor" that every ballplayer wears on his sleeve. That "badge of honor" is why my teammates and I work so hard and dedicate ourselves to the game. I will exit the ball field at the end of this season knowing that I will always have that "badge of honor" from the exclusive fraternity of college baseball and the game of baseball itself.
Please follow me this week as my teammates and I play twelve games in six days during our stay in Phoenix.

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