For the Love of the Game

Image result for seattle marinersToday’s the opening day of baseball season! We’ve made it through that 2-month-long drought after Superbowl, where there was nothing to watch on TV, sports-wise, except soccer and basketball, neither of which interest me very much. Now, there will be a Mariners’ game on almost every night to keep me company while I clean up the kitchen, fold the laundry, or putter around on the internet. And just maybe this, at long last, will be Seattle’s year!

It was not very wonderful that Catherine, who had by nature nothing heroic about her, should prefer cricket, BASEBALL, riding on horseback, and running about the country at the age of fourteen, to books – or at least books of information… (Northanger Abbey, chapter 1)

Image result for seattle marinersFor me, baseball is just one of many interests, a pleasant diversion, an undemanding entertainment – not my passion. But for someone aspiring to play the game professionally, it is serious business and, by necessity, an all-consuming passion. Nothing less than single-minded dedication would produce success in one of the most competitive sports on the planet.

I suppose I knew that much even before I began my research for the character of Ben Lewis in Leap of Faith, just released. Then the idea was confirmed by everything I learned through that process, including my conversations with Christopher Rosenbaum, a minor league professional baseball player, who ultimately became the technical adviser for the book.

Chris’s playing days are over now, but he’s found a way to stay in the game, converting his life-long love of baseball into what will hopefully be for him a life-long career. I thought today, in honor of Opening Day, I’d share some of his thoughts on the game, an excerpt from his retrospective that I included as a postscript in Leap of Faith. In his own words:

Image result for baseball catcherBaseball is a beautiful game, one that has been stitched into the fabric of my life since I began playing when I was eight years old. I spent seventeen years on the field and sixteen of them as a catcher behind home plate – a fitting name, for no matter which field, that patch of ground always feels like home to me.

It was an early goal of mine to play professional baseball – not an easy feat but one I was fortunate enough to accomplish. After a successful collegiate career, with two NCAA National Championships and an Academic All-American honor, I was signed by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.  Again, I had some triumphs – enough to keep me going – but after three seasons in the minors, suddenly it was over. Despite all the time and hard work I had invested, I was released.

As realistic as I had been regarding my talent, knowing I wasn’t as good as many of my peers, it was still painful to hear I was no longer wanted. What do you do when the one constant in your life is being taken away?

Although I had hoped that day wouldn’t come so soon, I knew I would eventually need to face life after baseball…

[With an MBA under his belt, Chris prepared to enter the corporate world, only to discover that the economic downturn had left no room for him there. So he turned back to baseball. His new plan became breaking into baseball’s executive side, using his unique combination of player experience and business skill to help his organization win, this time without actually setting foot on the field. He’s now a full-time advance scout for the Washington Nationals.]


Image result for baseball player …But, looking back, was it all worth it? – the enormous effort and countless sacrifices made so I could play professional baseball?

Especially in light of the disappointment of a premature end to my playing days, it would be easy to become jaded remembering below-minimum-wage salaries, endless bus-rides through the night, debilitating injuries, and grueling rehab. And yet baseball has given back so much to me. I’ve had opportunities and experiences most only dream of.

The game that I loved growing up has transformed into an ongoing livelihood and vocation for me. However, the true beauty of baseball lies within its unchanged core, where pitches are still balls or strikes, runners are out or safe, and batted balls are either fair or foul. There is no clock; every team gets an even chance to win, to claim Image result for Chris Rosenbaumvictory by the collective sum of their individual efforts.

So, like Ben Lewis, I have no regrets. To borrow a thought from the final chapter of this book, I lived my dream, however briefly, not achieving everything I once hoped, but enough. Whatever else I do in life, I can always be satisfied that I played hard and competed honorably.     Chris Rosenbaum

What do you think? Do you love baseball too? Can you relate to any of the sentiments Chris has expressed? Do you see any parallels to whatever career you have pursued? My passion is writing. What’s yours?

About Shannon Winslow

author of historical fiction in the tradition of Jane Austen
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