This I Believe

John - Eldersburg, Maryland
Entered on March 24, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

When I’m Done

In life, I believe in sticking with what you know best and what I’ve known best for the first eighteen years in my life is baseball. The game has always meant the world to me, which is why I feel I should share the lessons I’ve learned during my “career”. I believe you should:

• Listen. Forget the volume of what Coach is saying. Listen to the words. Most of the time he’s right.

• Do the work in the classroom. I’ve played with a number of players who’ve said, “I don’t know why I’m getting an F; I’m doing half of the work” or have had to ask what a “plethora” or “cog” is. Don’t let this happen to you.

• Never try to live up to someone else’s legacy. It’s almost impossible to do and you’ll drive yourself crazy doing it. The most fun I ever had was when I stopped trying to be something I thought everyone else wanted me to be and started playing the game to have fun.

• Respect the game. If at the end of the day you can honestly say that you did nothing to embarrass your family or yourself, you will be better than 75 percent of baseball players and 100 percent of all lacrosse players.

• Work hard. We’ve all been at a practice that goes on forever. It’s easy to stop working and goof around; but what will you remember longer-the game you lost or the fun you had at that practice? Don’t cheat yourself; it will make it easier to sleep at night.

• Be nice to freshmen. I remember my freshman year idolizing the starting shortstop on Varsity. He made a point of helping out the freshman shortstop that couldn’t catch a cold. It probably meant nothing to him, but it certainly helped me relax and play to the best of my ability. Do the same for somebody else.

• Enjoy the hell out of the game; it won’t last forever. Remember the first set of cleat marks on a newly raked field, the weightlessness of the ball when it connects with the bat, the green of the grass in the outfield, the smell of sunscreen, the taste of warm Gatorade, the fatigue of your muscles after a game, and the smell of the spring air as you drive around town after a big win. These are the things you’ll miss most, so cherish them now.

My days as a serious baseball player are soon coming to an end, so I realize the lessons I take from the game have to be the ones that apply to life as well as baseball. When that day comes when I take my last at bat, I know the experience will have been worthwhile because I know I will be a better person thanks to the lessons I’ve learned on a baseball field.