Just go and talk to him
This is what I had to tell myself a few times in the dugout of a big league spring training game this year in March. I was nervous like I was asking my first date to prom. I was nervous about approaching a 10-year big leaguer and introducing myself because we used to hit at the same facility. I was nervous because this big leaguer was Dustin Ackley, the same Dustin Ackley that I have watched and admired for years. It ended up great and we had a long conversation that day that ventured everywhere from where we grew up to talks of hitting mechanics and approach. Our conversation continued the next time I shared a dugout with him as well. He’s a great dude.
I tell this story not to toot my own horn about being at a big league spring training game, despite my excitement, but instead, to pass on a few important thoughts about growing as a player in this game.
First, members of the baseball community are, in almost all cases, very approachable. Everyone who plays this game loves it and loves talking about it with whoever wants to start a conversation. The amount of things that can be learned from your peers are endless, so taking advantage of asking questions of those who are more advanced than you is something that should never be taken for granted. I am more than glad I went up and introduced myself to Dustin and now have a good contact with years of big league experience. Don’t be scared. Go say what’s up and speak up about what’s on your mind.
Second, get rid of the pedestal. We all have the tendency to view the next level as something sacred and those in it as super human. The fact of the matter is they are not. They are just people who have put work in, become consistent, and done the right things to keep their career alive. If you view the next level, whether that be the varsity team, a college program, pro ball, or the big leagues, as somewhere above you, you are only tricking yourself into thinking its less attainable. This is not to say it’s easy to advance in this game, but the confidence you need to get there comes from believing you can and taking the steps to attain it. I came to this conclusion this spring after watching many days of minor league games and comparing them to the few big league games I was in the dugout for. Big leaguers act the same, and the game looks the same. It came to me that this level was right within my reach, much closer than I’ve ever thought of it. That varsity team or D1 college you’re eyeing is more than within your reach, put the work in and get there.
Anyone who wants to reach out and talk shop about anything is more than welcome!