I played quite a bit of baseball in my youth. I got as far as being the captain of a pretty good high school team. But somewhere between my junior and senior season, I realized I probably would never get to the top level of the game.
Not because of a lack of effort or desire – trust me, there wasn't anything I wanted to do more than play professional baseball. The realization had more to do with seeing first-hand what that top-level player looked like.
In my junior year I played in the same outfield as a future Detroit Tiger named Scott Lusader and trust me, it was borderline humiliating to someone that considered themselves pretty good to do a self-assessment compared to a guy with that kind of natural talent. The writing was on the wall!
So when I saw the following post on Facebook the other day, it really hit home for me. The post was in response to a story in the Washington Post about how travel teams are having a negative effect on baseball in America. And I think you'll agree it comes from a pretty valid source!
Doug Carpenter has more than 30 years of experience with professional baseball as a player, coach and scout. He is now a scout with MLB's Cleveland Indians.
Here's Doug’s comments on the story:
Just my opinion. Let your child play all sports (football, basketball, soccer, etc.). It helps round out their overall athleticism. When the baseball season is over THROW the glove in the closet! You will be amazed at the passion shown when baseball season rolls around again. Can you make them better? Yes. Can you push them too hard? YES! There is a fine line between the two and unfortunately, most parents don’t know where that line is. Major League Baseball players are very blessed athletes and there is more than just "ability" involved. Makeup, instincts, fundamentals, and work ethics are just a few factors that also affect player upside/value. How many times do we hear, "Oh...that Bobby is gonna play in the Big Leagues.” Reality check: there are only 750 Major League player jobs available during the season. And if Bobby is a shortstop he has to be one of the BEST 30 IN THE WORLD or he is not going to be a Major Leaguer. I think it’s less than .001 percent of kids playing youth baseball get the chance to be a Major League Baseball player. Yes...a lot of kids get the opportunity to play in the Minor Leagues (I did so for 7 years) but unless you got a big bonus, as the band Boston once sang, "you barely make enough to survive.”
Bottom line: let your kids be kids. Let them enjoy all the sports. If they are meant to play pro ball...their natural ability will one day allow them the opportunity. I am a firm believer that Major League Baseball players aren’t made...they are born.
Doug's last sentence hit home for me and I hope it's something that will also hit home for the thousands of moms and dads out there who are considering year round travel sports!
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