Back to School, Part 3
Back to School Edition, Part Three
It’s my turn to answer the same three questions Crawford and Belt did in their blogs this week.
What’s the best advice you ever got? It’s from my mom. She always had great advice, but the one I remember most was: Always try to be a role model for everybody and do the best in everything you do. I think I was about 12 when she said this. She always was teaching us to be a good person and behave in a way that will make people look up to you. She worked for Visa and didn’t have any real education in finances. She started as a secretary and worked her way really high up. The way she did it was always trying to be better and doing everything right. She was a great role model and I learned a lot just from watching her.
What do you wish you knew back in high school that you know now?
That life is not as easy as it seems at that age. When you’re 15, you think you’re going to do this or that. When you grow up, you realize it’s not that easy. You realize when you’re a grown man thatyou don’t have the same kind of support you did as a kid. Nobody’s going to do the work for you or make anything happen for you. You have to count on yourself. And you have be prepared that things are not going to go as you imagined they would. I went through a lot in my career, and maybe I struggled so much I wasn’t prepared. All of a sudden I found myself in a hole and had no ideawhat to do. So I think it’s good to appreciate the good times when you’re young but understand it’s not always going to be like that.
If you had never become a pro baseball player, how do you think playing sports as a kid would have helped you in life anyway?
One thing I learned through baseball was how to socialize with people. I’ve always been shy and quiet but since I started playing baseball I became more open. I learned how to be myself around people. That’s one of the most important things that baseball taught me. Baseball also helped me to stay focused on goals. I know guys I grew up with who are dead, who went another way. The way my country is, if you don’t have much money there are a lot of bad ways you can go. My family and baseball kept me on a good path.
Sports also taught me how to deal with failing.When I was 13, I was supposed to make the national team for the first time, but they picked someone else – a guy who had been on the national team for a few years. I was better, but for political reasons he got on the team instead. My twin brother also made the team. I was really crushed and frustrated. I was crying. But then I decided, OK, you have to work harder. So at the age of 13, I started going to the field by myself. It was three miles from my house, and even if it was nighttime I’d run, ride a bike or go on my roller blades. People would say to me, “You’re only 13! You’re crazy!’’ I would slide into bases by myself. I’d throw the ball as far and hard as I could by myself. I’d hit against the backstop by myself. I got better. Two years later, I was ready to be a pro player. So that failure at 13 motivated me to work so hard that I was able to sign a pro contract as soon as I turned 16.