Ahead in the Count

First inning, 0 balls, 0 strikes, 0 outs

posted by Matt Whiteside

As a Rookie to the blogging world, this will be my first attempt/Post, I find my self sitting at a desk pondering over how this has all transpired, in what seems like a blur.  My career started as a toddler in Charleston, Mo., a one stop light town, that was not a hot bed for aspiring Big Leaguers. Like most, I dreamed of playing Professionally. My aspirations had me doing so in all 3 major sports at the time, Basketball, Football, and Baseball.  Caucasion, and vertically challenged height wise, and in the  vertical leap, all but eliminted basketball from the start, even though I was a member of 2 State Championship Teams.  In football we ran an early version of the West Coast Offense.  This was more out of necessity due to the fact tha my foot speed at QB eliminated us from running the, popular at the time, Option.  On the Baseball field I could hold my own due to a decent arm, and smart enough positioning to get outs at SS.  I managed, through countless letters and VHS videos, ( email was not available at the time, nor was You Tube) to secure a partial scholarship to the Power House baseball program, ASU…..not that one, Arkansas State! I had my choice between two schools, a JC, Three Rivers Community College and ASU.  I chose the 4 year school and off I went.  Naive to a fault, the head coach had mentioned that I would enjoy pitching there because the fences were 400 feet, and since I had not given up a Home Run on our 370 Foot fences in High School, I was ready for stardom.  Needless to say, I was humbled quickly.  While we were not a very good program, we played a decent schedule.  Schools from the SEC, Big 8 (current Big 12), and the Southwest Conference littered our schedule.  My freshman year I managed to get some innings and quickly realized some adjustments were going to need to be made to enjoy my college experience on the bump.  I took myself back home for the summer and taught myself  a slider, to go along with my High School Curve Ball.  I managed to hold my own over the course of the next four years, and found a way to get drafted in the 25th round by the Texas Rangers in 1990.  What I found on the way during that college experience was that not everyone I was exposed to as teammates was willing to sacrifice, and work for the end result that I wanted.  The end result was not to be drafted.  That was something that was a dream, but not deemed a legitimate reality.  The end result I was seeking, was the satisfaction, and peace of mind, from giving a great effort towards achieving a goal, and becoming the best baseball player/teammate possible.  Getting drafted was a by product of the sacrifices, work, and diligence it takes to accopmlish the previously stated goal.

Occasionally people ask me what I think started the process that allowed me to have a successful career.  I always have the same answer.  First, and formost is my parents.  Both are from, and still live in, my small home town in Charleston, MO.  They are what people mean when they use the phrase “salt of the earth”.  Not rich by economical standards, but insanely wealthy  with morals, standards and work ethic.  Second, was the decision to play high school basketball.  My coach was a disciplinarian, with a bad attitude.  Practices following 20 point wins without basketballs, to focus on conditioning and defense, were the norm. In general I had been surrounded by people with tremendous work ethics, who would give the shirt off their back to a stranger in need.  Mix that up bringing with a decent arm, and that is my career in a nutshell. 

I am proud to be associated with the lineup that makes up this team.  I find it interesting that each teammate here is an adult male in their 30’s or 40’s( I am the lone 40ish member here) and none of us have children, to the best of my knowledge. The one common thread that I feel each guy here shares is the desire to help others, young boys and teenagers specifically. I think I find it interesting because each of us along the way have had a coach or mentor that we can reflect on and legitimately say that person made a difference in our lives.  That is why I have agreed to join in here.  I promise I will not ramble on at this length each time out, but thanks for sticking with me on this outing.

November 12, 2008 - Posted by | Overview / Background, written by Matt Whiteside

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