MY STORY – MY PASSION
My love for baseball started when I was six years old. And if my mother were alive, she’d tell you about all the patches she had to sew on my uniform, or how I’d wear it to bed almost every night or cry when I had to take it off to be washed.
As a 10-year old, I discovered the power of what the mind could do when I was pitching in a game. It dawned on me that nothing happened until I decided to pitch, (can you imagine the “power” that can give to a 10-year old!). I was in charge! Once I realized that I had control over my thoughts, I could have control over my actions. I would mix up the tempo of my delivery or change my wind up to distract the batter. In my mind, I could even see and hear the ball hitting the catchers mitt before each pitch. I “got” there was a lot more to pitching than just throwing the ball over the plate. There was a game within the game!
But it wasn’t always a bed of roses! I also discovered how my mind could work against me. When I made the jump from high school to college baseball, I thought I was going to the “Big time”. “Those players don’t make mistakes”, I thought. So I put all this undo pressure on myself to be perfect, thinking there is no margin for error.
In fact, during one spring game, I walked 5 batters… in a row after I had gotten the first two outs in the last inning of a tight game. And the “harder” I tried, the worse it got. I knew how to pitch, but something got in my way – it turned out, it was the barrage of constant negative, unproductive thoughts I was telling myself! I was out on the mound, a bundle of nerves, afraid to make a bad pitch, feeling lost – and EXTREMELY frustrated! It was hard enough trying to get batters out, even harder when I was beating myself up on the mound! I felt like I was my own worst enemy. I got out of the jam I put us in and we won the game. But my confidence was shot. Instead of celebrating the victory with my teammates, I was angry at myself, disappointed in my performance and fearful I would never see the field again – and if I did, hoping I could “forget about it” as they say, and not have that game mentally follow me! But it’s not always that easy. There had to be another way!
If only I knew then, what I know now … but then again, everything happens for a reason!
And that reason has become my mission, to help athletes tap into and unlock the power of their mental game and experience what it can do for them as a player and as a person.
Having a passion for the mental game has allowed for some pretty incredible experiences off the field too. I sat down with David Ortiz, Alex Rodriguez, Tony LaRussa, Al Kaline and over 300 other Major League Players, coaches, managers and Hall of Famers in Major League club houses to ask them questions like, “How do you put an error behind you, when thousands are watching you? What qualities do you admire in a teammate? What has the game of baseball taught you about yourself? How do you stay focused when the fans boo and heckle you? How do you prepare for success?” Those questions and much, much more became a book I wrote called, “Stepping Up to the Plate: Inspiring Interviews with Major Leaguers.”
I’ve been blessed to speak about the mental game to numerous organizations, schools and businesses as well as the Baseball Hall of Fame, and be featured in media outlets like the Los Angeles Times, MLB.com, Success Magazine, and numerous national and international radio shows.
What brings me the greatest joy is seeing the light bulb go off in a ball players mind when they discover the power of their mental game to help them be the best player, and person, they can be.