Rambling On About My Glory Days: Welcome to Professional Baseball Moment
You may recall my previous post about being drafted and the joy my family and I felt when I was chosen in the 16th round by the Los Angeles Dodgers. To celebrate Dodger Blue, I went out and spent my whole bonus on a shiny, metallic Green Buick Century? Upon signing, the Dodger brass told me that I was being sent to Lodi, California (Dodger high A team) because they needed a second baseman. Being on cloud nine, I was sure there was nothing that could dampen my enthusiasm for getting the opportunity to follow my lifelong dream. However, my first day in professional baseball proved very enlightening and a great effort towards dimming that enthusiasm. Here is how it went down.
What is all that ringing noise and people shouting in the Reno, Nevada airport, I wondered on my first stop in pro ball? – Cool, I thought of the slot machines which I had never seen before. This could only mean good luck in my estimation. I arrived at the road ball park where the Lodi Dodgers were playing, only to see my new team get demolished something like 22 - 4. My first acquaintance was the team trainer, who informed me that I was now the 5th second baseman on the team. Maybe, luck wasn’t on my side after all.
Having arrived too late to dress for the game, it wasn’t until after the game when I received my indoctrination to professional baseball. It definitely was an eye opener and put some fear into me. Our manager, obviously disgusted with the game and my new team’s play, broke into an expletive filled tirade that would have made any managers highlight reel proud. Having grown up in catholic schools and having attended college in the heart of the Bible belt in Murray Kentucky, coach packaged more four letter words together than I had heard or said my whole life. Even though I was shaking in my shoes, I marveled at his linguistic abilities and realized I was no longer in college.
He threatened that changes would be made if things didn’t improve. I became enlightened to the fact that baseball is now a business, where things were taken serious and people’s livelihood depended on performance, and success. Changes did come and quickly, which was fortunate for me. The following day two of the team’s players who shared time at second base were released, one was sent back to lower A ball and one was relegated to a utility role. I was now the starting second baseman with the opportunity I had always dreamed of having. When I look back at my professional career, I believe that was the best introduction to pro ball I could have had because I gained the understanding that it was either produce or “get lost,” because there is always someone else willing and ready to take your job away.
Former major leaguer Jack Perconte is the author of The Making of a Hitter (http://jackperconte.com) and has a baseball instruction blog that can be found at www.baseballcoachingtips.net. He has recently published his second book Raising an Athlete – How to Instill Confidence, Build Skills and Inspire a Love of Sport