When I was growing up, my dream was to play second base for the Chicago Cubs. Ryne Sandberg was the second basemen for the Cubs in those days and he was my favorite Major League player. I had it all worked out because at about the time I would be coming into the league, Sandberg would be about done so it would be a natural and easy turn over for the Cubs.
But there came a point in my illustrious baseball career when it was obvious I was not going to go pro. I really wasn’t too sad when the dream died. The reality is I just wasn’t that good of a player. I remember playing a lot in tee ball, little league and into middle school. I primarily played second base and considered myself a decent fielder. But I was not a good hitter. In fact, I was well below average as a hitter.
When I got to High School, I had expectations set to come off the bench. Our school was small enough that we didn’t have tryouts. You either signed up for the team or you didn’t. The problem for me was that I got very little opportunity to come off the bench. It wasn’t rare for me to be the only player from our team to not get into the game. But I loved the game so I stuck with it over the years thinking I would improve enough to get consistent playing time.
I think it was my Sophomore year when I broke my wrist playing baseball at home in our yard early in the season. I’m quite certain I made a great play and remember slipping on the grass and landing on my wrist. I was bummed but not devastated. So, I started the season on the injured list but I wouldn’t have played much, if at all, anyway.
I got very familiar with the bench over the years. Many cool Spring afternoons were spent in the dugout sucking on sunflower seeds. It got to the point where I was happy just to go out between innings and warm up the right or left fielder, depending where our dugout was located, on the first or third base side of the field.
So, when my Senior year of High School rolled around, I was done warming the benches of midwestern baseball fields. I didn’t go out for baseball that year and didn’t really miss it. My best friends didn’t play baseball so it was fun to spend more time with them and more time working. It was much more productive and I really don’t have any regrets.
Growing up, basketball for me was the same way but I learned faster that playing time would be at a premium. If I was 11th or 12th on the depth chart in baseball, I was 11th or 12th on the depth chart in basketball as well with even less opportunity since you only need five guys out there running around. So I went out for basketball only up through middle school.
Of the few years that I played basketball, one game sticks out to me the most when we played a team from a nearby town and beat them 55-15. Because we had such a huge lead, I was put in the game and I remember scoring eight points. My coach even likened me to Michael Jordan after that game. It was the highlight of my basketball career. Probably the highlight of my sports career. Although, I did strike out the side in Little League one time.
Sports was fun but it wasn’t what I excelled at. I had much better success in music when I was in school. I was a part of Madrigals, a quartet, musicals, show choir, jazz band and always did well in our vocal and band contests. I enjoyed it more than sports as well.
The point is, no matter how long you struggle with something, if it’s not your ‘thing’, there’s not a great chance it will eventually be your ‘thing.’ The good news is that there probably is something else that is your ‘thing.’ It’s just a matter of figuring out what that other ‘thing’ is.
Have fun in the discovery of what that is and enjoy the journey!