Manning: Never Give Up The Dream

Bottom of the ninth, two outs and the bases loaded.  The count is 3-2 on the batter and the World Series hangs in the balance.

In rooms across America that dream ends with a walk-off grand slam at the behest of the child day-dreaming.  And with that hope in their heart they work towards a Major League career.  But, at some point, reality sets in.  We cannot all play Major League Baseball.  Of the 7.3 Billion people in the world, since the dawn of the game only 18,000 have ever been graced with the opportunity to play pro ball.  Each year that boils down to about 750 who get to play the game at its highest level.

For me, that dream took its official hiatus about the end of High School.  Gifted with a power arm, I never had or learned control.  Though my parents’ put forward their best efforts, my lack of hard work prevailed.  By the time I reached the end of my playing days, it was an equal likelihood that I would hit a batter, to the chance that I would strike that batter out.

However, that was not the end.  On May 5, 2015 I got involved in the world of baseball.  After having worked in Electrical Construction and Congressional Politics, through my best friend, I was offered a position to train as one of MLBAM’s operators for their new Statcast technology.  This tech promised to revolutionize the game of baseball, and I would be utilizing it for live television, travelling the country making a lovong being a part of Major League Baseball.

Over the last two plus years, I have been to 13 Major League stadiums, four playoff series, and an All Star Game.  I have seen& Jul. 4 in Chicago and my favorite team, the New York Mets in the World Series.  I saw Aaron Judge hit a ball 119.4 MPH and Manny Machado hit a ball 490 FT.  I have had drinks with Tom Verducci and sang Happy Birthday to Ernie Johnson on national television.

Thursday June 8, 2017.  On this day, two weeks ago, in Washington D.C., I got to take two boys, aged 14 and 17, who I have watched grow up, and show them what it is like to work in baseball.  I told them how the Doppler radar in each stadium tracks the ball every play and how the two camera banks on the third base stands follow the movements of the players.  I taught them about the role of a Director, Producer, and what an EVS machine does.  All the while they were transfixed on the eight different video feeds, six different people, and two computer programs I worked with every game just to produce graphics for each show.

As I took them back to their seats before the start of the game, we talked about school and baseball.  I gave them a hug and told them to keep me in the loop and their parents to be in touch.  The next day when I opened my email it warmed my heart to know just how enthralled they were.  

I had the opportunity to show two of my former campers that there are other options to get into baseball if playing does not work out.  For any kid out there the dream doesn’t end when you put down your glove.  From Sig Mejdal, the former NASA scientist who now helps run the Astros, to John Coppolella who turned down a job with Intel to intern with the Yankees and is now the General Manager of the Atlanta Braves, it’s truly what you put into life that begets you opportunity.

Perspective is a funny thing.

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