We're Kids at Heart Ballplayers at a glance

In the early to mid 1800's baseball was created, putting an exact date on the invention of baseball is like deciding whether Pluto is a planet or a floating rock. The conversation continues back and forth between agreeing that Abner Doubleday was the father of Americas Past Time or if it was Spaulding or even someone else. But one thing is for sure, Baseball has been one of the most popular sports in the world for what seems like an eternity. The game is played almost everywhere in the world with it being most prominent in the United States and the Carribean.

My Origins

When I was brought into this world it didn't take long for me to be introduced to the great game of baseball. In fact, it took only two days. You read that right, I've known baseball since I was two days old when my parents took me to a Minor League game. From that moment up to today Baseball has been in my life consistently, I've never missed a game or practice. I started playing when I was at the ripe age of three, now I'm 21 and I still enjoy every day I have with the first thing I fell in love with. For every ball player there is that one moment when they became addicted to this sweet drug. Mine was when I was nine, my team was playing in the league championship and I was at shortstop and made the final play to win the game, that was the sweetest taste of love I have known outside of my family.

Baseball is a game of failure, it is a cruel game. Even some of the best hitters got out 7 of 10 at bats. You might be asking, "Who would love a game like that so much, where you are expected to fail?" Well my answer for that is the taste of success when you finally get it. Like a drug addict when they get their fix, ball players will do anything to taste success, even if it means failing first. Because of this we have a short memory, if we strike-out we find out why and then forget that it even happened. It also forces us to have fun. In baseball if you're not having fun then you wont succeed. A perfect example of a man having fun like a child is former Texas Ranger, Adrian Beltre and his teammate Elvis Andrus. They encompass what the baseball community is about and why we love being part of it.

Where Does This Childish Attitude Start?

Most ball players start when they are around five which is usually the age for tee ball. If you watch one of those games you will notice most of the players will be playing in the dirt or chasing butterflies and as you can imagine it is as cute as anything can be. This time in their lives they don't have a care in the world and it's that feeling we still carry with us when we step inside the lines. In a study by Gary Alan Fine where he and his team are studying a Little League, they write in their field notes a quote from one of the coaches that brings to light how baseball can keep our inner child alive. "Oh, I don't know. They're just having fun. Let 'em be. In another five years they'll be out working." (Gary Alan Fine page 56)

Statistics

This statement is true for many boys who play baseball. Each level the amount of players drop. In Little League there are about two million players from ages 5-14, after that is High School freshmen baseball which has around 470,000 players a staggering 23% of Little League players make it to this level and only 28% make it forward to High School Varsity baseball which has close to 135,000 players. Nearly seven percent of those who play varsity baseball will play in college between the NCAA's divisions 1 through 3 and that is about 29,000 players which all but around 9,000 being pitchers. Only about seven thousand of them make it to their senior year and out of all of those players, there are just six hundred draft picks.When all is said and done only .45% of high school players will play professionally and 9.4% of collegiate ball players will get a chance at the big leagues. (Be Recruited Statistics) Why wouldn't we want to have as much fun as we do? Especially when chances are we might not play in the next season. It's so we can have the chance at making the walk from the clubhouse out to a stadium filled with fans as seen below in the picture from the MiLB website.

The walk from the clubhouse to the big league ballpark is one every player wants to make.

What is the Life Like?

Baseball like other sports is a fraternity, anyone can spot a ball player on the street just by looking at them. We even have baseball clothing lines, a couple of popular examples in the baseball community are "Routine Baseball" and "Baseball Swagg". And we all have seen The Sandlot and Bull Durham which are both classics in the film world. But that is just the start of it, usually if there is a walk-off victory, you can expect the man who got the game-winning hit to get his face covered by a shaving cream pie while giving his post-game interview. Rookies in the Major League get the special treatment of modelling pink backpacks with Disney Princesses on them when the rosters get expanded from 25 to 40 in September. We act like snipers in the dugout or in the bullpen by taping paper cups on a bat. And then there is the famous chatter. One of my favorites is when an opposing player strikes out looking one of my teammates would yell "Hey! Whats your favorite movie?" and from the other end of the dugout I would reply with the movie "Frozen!"

Not Just Fun and Games

Although we love to have fun, baseball takes work year-round. Some say hitting a baseball is the hardest act to do in all of sports. There is an old saying that I heard that usually seems to ring true, "You can take any athlete and put him in batters box and he won't hit but, put a baseball player in any other sport and he will succeed." Which to me is the honest truth, the average major league takes around four-tenths of a second to travel 60 feet 6 inches to reach home plate, faster than the blink of an eye. Within the first twelve feet the hitter has decided what pitch is coming, by the time the ball has around 30 feet left to travel the hitter must start his swing (if he decides to) in order to make contact with the ball. (Science of Hitting a Baseball) One of baseballs most iconic players Yogi Berra once said "You can't think and hit at the same time."

That's just a small portion of what occurs in a game for each player. In a nine inning game there are 27 outs for each team, divide that by nine and that means each man is allotted three at bats at the least. The rest of the game is spent on defense which is (as many coaches will say) what wins championships. When the ball is hit all nine players have somewhere to be, whether its making a play on the ball or backing up a base, they must be where they have learned. To do this baseball players spend most of their time practicing their defense, fielding ground balls or catching fly balls, throwing and perfecting their footwork. There is even more work after that. All players must stay in shape through the season and keep their bodies healthy so they have to lift weights. The Major League season lasts 162 games without playoffs from April to October which means it is physically demanding. In order to keep playing players will lift during the season to maintain their strength and build in the off-season.

Through all of this work we still see the fun this game brought to us as children and it has consumed our lives. Most of us eat, sleep and breathe baseball. It's like a drug that you cant get enough of, and when its gone we can't wait for it to come back. As most of us will tell you, there are only two seasons in the year, baseball season and winter. Without this wonderful game we would most likely be boring people. Baseball is what we do, its what keeps us from growing up, and who we are and nothing will ever change that, not even retirement.

Photo Essay

This is a look into my life as a Baseball player. Each one of these pictures comes with a memory of that exact time and place. These represent some of my best experiences in life such as this first one, I never thought I would be signing autographs but when my summer team went to the National Baseball Congress (NBC) World Series we were treated like professionals. Almost every kid there wanted an autograph or for us to give them a ball, this particular boy had the remains of a broken bat from the game before and he asked me to sign one part as I was walking into the dugout. There is also one of myself and a teammate A.J. in the dugout of our all star game for the same summer league. He made a sniper out of one of his old bats and then proceeded to give me a pair of binoculars to be his "spotter" so we can snipe the other team. Another one is a picture from my freshman year of college, we had a Halloween game to close out fall practice and myself along with a group of freshman including two of my best friends decided to dress up as the Chanel Four News Team from Anchorman.

National Baseball Congress World Series 2016

Freshman Year with a couple of lifelong friends, we did some crazy eye-black designs for this game.

Sophomore year of college in California

My love for the game started early in life, in this picture I was 9 years old.

NBC World Series with a couple of the other pitchers on my team.

Freshman year of college in Nebraska.

Sometimes we too have wardrobe malfunctions, this happened in the 3rd inning of a game and I had to finish with ripped pants.

I spot a sniper in the dugout.

This conversation was anything but serious, coach Conyers was trying to lighten the mood.

Its necessary to dog-pile when you win on a walk-off hit.

We wanted to be a news team for Halloween and I think it worked out well.

Reflection

After writing this article on how Baseball players are really overgrown children was an enjoyable experience because in every other English class i have been in all of the papers have been boring and too formal for my taste. With this one I felt like i was able to be let lose and truly explore what I could do with the keyboard at my fingertips. What I tried to bring light to what goes on in the Baseball community where folks aren't looking such as in the dugouts and off of the field. One strength I see in this paper is that I was able to give some useful examples of how we are like children such as the video of Elvis Andus and Adrian Beltre, and one of my favorite jokes to holler at a batter when he strikes out looking. One of the things I do wish I could've included is some videos of the dugout and locker room to show some of the things we do that people will most likely never see outside of those areas. I felt like I didn't need to use sources because I would be what is considered an expert of baseball because I have been playing from the age of four and I am now 21 and still playing. After reading the paper again I firmly believe that I was able to put my best foot forward in attempting to show people the other side of ballplayers. Being a Baseball player is something that holds a special place in my heart because it is the only thing I know in life and I have met some of my best friends while playing the best game in the land. I was also able to share a few of my memories from playing while putting together my photo essay. If i had enough time I would be able to dive deeper into each photo to share the story about it.

Annotated Bibliograpy

Fine, Gary Alan. With The Boys: Little League Baseball and Preadolescent Culture. Pg. 43-48.

Gary Alan Fine along with a few students performed a study on the world of Little League Baseball and the culture it creates with the young kids. Within the pages I will be using they attend the opening day of a Little league and observe what happens between the lines and in the dugouts. One example involves a man named Dino who buys gum before one of the games starts. When he gets to the dugout the kids surround him asking for the gum and Fine explains it as like feeding time at an aquarium. He is using specific examples of how baseball creates culture for the kids. He explains one pitcher who specifically models his pre-pitch ritual after some big leaguers, stating “his enthusiasm for the professional display of the game is also demonstrated in the way he reacts when the pitch is called a strike.”

"The 50 Greatest Yogi Berra Quotes." USA Today. Gannett Satellite Information Network, n.d. Web. 07 Dec. 2016.

USA Today takes a look at some of the most famous quotes from former Yankee catcher Yogi Berra who was highly noted for his insightful but sometimes confusing quotes that are still used today in all sports. He was the man who was credited with the famous saying “It ain’t over til’ it’s over.” His sayings go great with my paper because it shows how baseball players talk and act when the cameras aren’t rolling. Berra was known for being a fun person to be around and that is what I’m trying to convey to the reader so they understand that ballplayers are fun people in the midst of a serious and mentally draining game we play. The quote I plan to use is “You can't think and hit at the same time." I will use this to help the reader learn that hitting a baseball is hard and that it is nothing but pure repetition and reaction.

"Lookout! Four Days in Chattanooga | MiLB.com News | The Official Site of Minor League Baseball." MiLB.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Dec. 2016.

This source is mainly being used for the picture that is displayed within the page, it is a picture of a minor-league baseball player walking to the field from the clubhouse. To me this picture is a great representation of what every baseball player strives for. We all want to play professionally in some compacity and that walk from the clubhouse to the field is one that we picture in our dreams. Because of that reason I will be using the picture to show the reader what our goal is even if it isn’t set at a MLB stadium. I think it will help the reader visualize themselves making that walk to the dugout and up the steps to the field and seeing the fans lined up on the wall to get autographs and photos with them. Its something that a select few people that play baseball will ever experience in fact it’s a fraction of one percent of the players that play high school baseball.

"Science of Baseball: Biological Baseball | Exploratorium." Science of Baseball: Biological Baseball | Exploratorium. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Dec. 2016.

In this source the author talks about the science of hitting a baseball, making it the arguably the hardest thing to do in al of sports. In my mind statistics are a good way to convey the authors thoughts within their argument. Using this helps my paper because it breaks down the different parts of hitting into each section of time from when the pitcher releases the ball to contact with the bat. There is a big part of this that I will paraphrase so I wont be quoting the whole article. The part that I will focus on is the small portion of time that the hitter has to decipher what pitch is coming and then decide whether to swing or not, which is within the first twelve feet of the release, keeping in mind that the distance between the mound and home plate is 60 feet 6 inches. This will also tie into the quote I am using from Yogi Berra that “You can’t think and hit at the same time.”

Zac Aubrey Corona." BeRecruited. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Dec. 2016.

This site is a recruiting website for high school and junior college players of all sports and in this particular section Zac Aubrey is talking about the statistics of how many players from each level of baseball move up to the next. Its useful for my paper in helping the reader realize how hard it is to move on to the next level of baseball. This is another source that I will be paraphrasing so I’m not just copying and pasting the whole thing. I think this is another good way of putting into perspective just how hard baseball is and why we work so hard to achieve our goals, all while having fun because we never know when we will lace up our spikes for the last time. The big thing to remember about this source is that it is only addressing the statistics of American baseball players. The reader needs to remember that out of all of the draft pics each year that there are many international players that will be selected, making it even harder for the American baseball player to reach the pros.

Klopman, Michael. "Baseball Players Get To Have All Of The Fun (VIDEOS, GIFs)." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, n.d. Web. 08 Dec. 2016.

This is an article written by Michael Klopman about how baseball players have fun. I think it will be perfect for my essay because it is exactly what I am trying to explain to the reader, that we have more fun than people may see and that it is a privilege to be able to be a member of this community. Klopman explains some of the things that happen at a baseball game such as pies in the face when a certain player gets a walk-off hit, the Gatorade shower for the same reason, or occasionally both. He also mentions the standoff that used to happen before games where players from each team will stand on the field like they would if the national anthem is playing but they continue afterward and whoever stays out longer wins. I may even use one of the pictures in the article to give the reader a visual of the unfiltered fun that we can have on the field.

Lehnardt, Karin. "95 Awesome Facts about Baseball | FactRetriever.com." FactRetriever.com. N.p., 20 Aug. 2016. Web. 08 Dec. 2016.

Karin Lehnardt posted an article with facts that most people may not know. This could help my essay by giving something fun for the reader to learn about the game so they may understand it more as Americas Past-Time. Facts such as how the Cincinnati Red Stockings were the first professional baseball team and in their first season they went without a single loss making them also the only un-defeated professional baseball team. There are many fun facts that I believe will be good for the reader to know and I think they may help keep the paper easy to read and more enjoyable.

Wagner, James. "Major Leaguers Have Time on Their Hands." The Washington Post. WP Company, n.d. Web. 08 Dec. 2016.

James Wagner writes this article in the Washington Post about how baseball players spend their time off the field when they aren’t engaged in a game. He states that it is perfectly normal for a manager to get to the ballpark about seven hours before the first pitch and subsequently the players arrive up to five hours before the game. He helps answer the question of what baseball players do in their down time because there is a surplus of it. I think this could be useful in my essay by giving examples of what goes on in the club house before the games. Those things could include hitting in the batting cages, lifting, getting a good stretch, or as simple as playing video games or cards. There also can be team meetings, pranks and different orientation procedures such as the pink princess backpack for the newly called up rookies.

Hayhurst, National MLB Columnist Nov 5, 2014, Dirk. "Offseason Not a Fun Ride for Most." Bleacher Report. N.p., 08 Dec. 2016. Web. 08 Dec. 2016.

Dirk Hayhurst is writing for the popular sports website Bleacher Report in an article explaining what baseball players do during the offseason. He states that some players go on vacations, most of them workout or do drills in order to get better than they were for the next season. For some Minor-League ball-players they can make only two dollars a day and during the offseason they are forced to get jobs so they wont go broke. That all goes along with continuing to practice and get better. This could be useful for the essay because it has interviews with players about what they do in the offseason.

Murphy, Jen. "How a Major League Baseball Star Works Out in the Off-Season." The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, 07 Mar. 2016. Web. 08 Dec. 2016.

Jen Murphy writes about current MLB star Mike Trout and how he trains in the off-season. In the interview, Trout says that he refuses to pick up a baseball or even a bat during the winter so he can focus on building strength. His routine includes 90 minutes of training six times a week which includes the unconventional workout time being at 9pm, he explains that he sleeps better when he is exhausted. This source could help at the end of my paper where I will explain what we do during the winter. It will give the reader some insight from one of baseball’s most prolific players who has been the American League MVP in 2014 and runner up in 2012, 2013, and 2015. She later dives in deeper to Trout’s workout by getting to know what he does in the gym and his motivation behind it all.

Credits:

Created with images by keijj44 - "baseball catcher little league"

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