How Baseball Saved My Life

Unfortunately, I’ve been having some technical difficulties recently trying to upload my first and very own video.  Therefore, you will just have to bear with me and read what was meant to be a video of an extended conversation about the interview questions Mr. Motivational Nuggets, aka CJ Beatty, asked me in his latest motivational baseball video on YouTube, “Baseball Saved My Life.”

Regardless, I wanted to post my own video of a personal interview in effort to not only spend more time answering the questions Cj had asked me in “Baseball Saved My Life”, but also talk a bit more about my experience so far living and playing oversees here in Australia, why I reached out to CJ in the first place to want to do a video and clarify exactly how baseball saved my life.

Question 1:  “What age did you figure out baseball was your heart?  And Why?

It was definitely at a young age that I knew baseball was my passion. I pretty much decided then, when I started playing tee ball just blasting balls over everyone that I wanted to be a Major Leaguer and have a career in baseball.  Ever since those days of dominating and awing parents by how well I could swing and hit the ball at such a young age did I start to believe I could have something special here.

There’s just something about making that pure contact and hitting the ball off that sweet spot of the bat.  It is an unbelievable feeling and there is really nothing that compares to playing the game of baseball for me.

Question 2:  “How old are you?  List your high school/college awards.

I am 22 years old and soon to be 23 years old in March.  I graduated in 2010 from Ocean Township High School in New Jersey where I was a varsity pitcher and shortstop for three years.  After high school, I continued my baseball career in snowy, upstate New York at Ithaca College for the Ithaca College Bombers.

At Ithaca, I was a four year varsity infield position player, 3x Empire 8 Conference Champion, 2x 1st Team All-Empire 8 Second basemen, 2014 2nd Team New-York Region Second basemen, 2013 New York Region Champion, and a Division III 2013 College World Series participant.

Question 3:  “Did you expect to get drafted?”

Yeah, I did expect to get drafted.  I had really high hopes going into my senior year.  In 2013, after the College World Series, our shortstop Tim Locastro was the first DIII player to be selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 13th round of the draft.  In 2012, our closer Tucker Healy, was selected by Billy Beane’s Oakland Athletics in the 23rd round.

Timmy Lo finished the 2014 season playing short-season A ball in the minors.  He led his team in batting average and to the championship series of his league.  I got to see Tucker pitch in Midland, Texas for Oakland’s AA team back in May.  After two weeks with the Midland Rock Hounds, he got called up to AAA where he finished his second season in the minors.

After all the success we had in just a couple of years, Ithaca Baseball was back on the map.  My goals for 2014 were to be an All-American and help lead the team back to the College World Series to compete for a National championship all in hope to be the third player from Ithaca in as many years to get drafted.

Question 4:  “Why didn’t you go pro?”

I did not go pro because I lost focus and concentration mid-way through my senior season.  I got off to a great start and was on track to achieving my goals for 2014.  After the first ten games of the season, my batting average was over .500 and I had not committed an error in the field.  I was doing all the right things on and off field and was proud to see my hard-work starting to pay off.

Unfortunately, I ruined any chances I thought I had in achieving any of the goals I had to help me get drafted because I got complacent and fell back into some bad habits of drinking too much for someone with my aspirational goals.

Before my final semester of college, I promised myself, and most importantly my family that I wouldn’t disappoint them anymore.  My dad said if I had not been entering my final semester of college, then he would have taken me out of school because of how badly I let my grades slip the last year.  I was seriously determined to prove to not only my family, but also my friends and myself that not messing up or messing around would help me achieve my goals.  However, I did not achieve any of my goals for the 2014 baseball season. Luckily, I did well enough the start of my last semester to earn my diploma and a professional contract with the Alpine Texas Cowboys in the Independent Pecos league.

If you have goals, especially big goals like mine of being an elite athlete at the highest level of professional baseball, then you cannot afford to waste your time.  You’ve got to make the full commitment and be tough physically, but most important, mentally.

Question 5:  “How does it feel seeing others get opportunities and not you?

It definitely motivates me more.  I’ve played with enough guys now with and against that are signed or have been previously signed with MLB affiliated clubs that I know I’ve got to get my opportunity soon enough.  I’ve been surrounded by a lot of people that have had the opportunity to play with MLB affiliated clubs that I believe I just need to keep working hard, stay persistent and patient for my ticket to be punched.

Question 6:  “Despite the failures and missed opportunities, Why continue?  

I’ve got to keep going despite all the failures and missed opportunities because I believe that every time we experience failure we also actually create more opportunities and open new doors for ourselves to succeed.  As crazy as that may sound, I know that for my hopes and dreams to turn into a reality I need to stay PERSISTENT, PREPARE properly physically and mentally and LEARN from my mistakes and failures.  Instead of harp on negative experiences, I believe it is important to put a positive twist on it and see it as another opportunity to do better and prove myself worthy of more, bigger and better opportunities.

In addition, besides spending more time on those interview questions from CJ, I also wanted to talk more about some of what I’ve experienced living down under, why I approached him and clarify how we came up with the title of the video.

It was back in October when our teams were both practicing at the same field one night together that CJ and I met. We started chatting after he heard my American accent amongst all the Aussie accents. We talked about where we were from and where we had just finished playing. CJ just signed with the Chicago White Sox after four years playing Independent Professional baseball in the Frontier league. I had just graduated college and finished my first season playing Independent ball with the Alpine Cowboys in the Pecos league. We hit it off right away both sharing similar paths of playing independent baseball. After we met, I found out more about CJ and his company Motivational Nuggets and how he likes to spend a lot of his spare time public speaking and sharing motivational videos on YouTube.

CJ saw me play a couple times after we met. I messaged him about a month later asking him for some advice because I was kind of having a tough time. I told him I was experiencing a lot of frustration and indecisiveness because I was not getting the results on the field that I was hoping for. I thought I was giving everything I had off the field to help me succeed on the field, but I was still feeling impatient and unhappy with the results I was getting.

Originally, I had this plan that I thought would help me get the results I was hoping for on the field. I thought keeping my life private and not participating in social media would be the quickest way for me to get recognized by scouts and help improve my game. It was weeks that I had not let out a tweet, posted something on Facebook or a picture on Instagram, nothing. I thought I would keep my life private, live in the moment, enjoy myself out here in Australia and not be distracted by what was going on in the cyber world.

After showing some signs of improvement, I thought my plan was working, but I still had this feeling of anxiety like maybe I need to switch something up, do something different again. CJ said he would call me when he wasn’t busy.

Then something drastic happened that forced me to change. A couple days after I messaged CJ a teammate of mine from Ithaca suddenly passed away the day after Thanksgiving. He took his own life. It was an extremely sad time for the Ithaca College community and Ithaca baseball. After this happened, I knew I had to do something. Something wasn’t right.

I try to tell people to not take failures or negative experiences so seriously and instead just see it as another opportunity to learn and succeed, but this kind of thing doesn’t happen often and no family should ever have to go through something like that. It took me sometime to settle after that, but things did not get better from there. A month later, a family friend I grew up and graduated from high school with also went to heaven. She fell down the stairs at a party and never came out of a coma. The end of 2014 was brutal. I asked God, “Why?” I needed answers.

It was a few days after my teammate from Ithaca passed away that I contacted CJ again. I told him what had happened, why I decided to come to Australia and a bit more of my story. He wanted to help after he understood more and what I had just experienced. I asked him if we could do a motivational video. He agreed and knew right away what he wanted to call the video. I couldn’t agree with him more. The way I see it, baseball saved my life.  If I didn’t have baseball to motivate me to give up that lifestyle I was addicted to of drinking irresponsibly then I wouldn’t be where I am today. I am so thankful for baseball and everything it’s done for me.

All I want to do now is give back and give other people hope. Nobody is perfect and we all strive to be perfect, but if we were to be perfect it would mean all of our hopes and dreams becoming a reality. After experiencing so many loses in the beginning of my trip here in Australia, I’ve come to believe tough times are wake up calls from God. Like, “hey your not doing what you need to do to help your cause of being perfect, or achieving your hopes and dreams.” I know that people are scared of change. Most people are. However, I think we can understand change easier and the good that change can bring from one of my favorite quotes by Winston Churchill. “To change is to improve. To be perfect is to change often.” Sticking to the plan can be good, but if you really want to advance and be happy then adjustments and certain sacrifices need to be made.

I’ve received tremendous feedback from “Baseball Saved My Life” recently and will be doing a bit more of this kind of thing that CJ does when I have time too in between hours I’m not doing something for baseball. It makes me so proud when I can have a positive effect and give a stranger hope just by sharing my stories and experiences. “Baseball Saved My Life” is dedicated to my friend, my teammate and my brother Max and his family. Please keep liking and sharing “Baseball Saved My Life”… You never know whose life you can INSPIRE, MOTIVATE and SAVE.  The goal is to not have people give up on chasing their dreams and continue doing what they have the passion to do.

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