First and foremost, I want to wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas and blessed holiday season. This time of year is a period of winding down until the beginning of the new year. We get to say we made it to 2020, though I’m not sure there is any real significance other than the year flew by and we now turn a page in the calendar to what a few years ago seemed like was just a number. It’s a fancy way to say we’re heading to the future when we say “2020.”
Christmas season as a young Jimmy Wagner — and only my friends from my youth get to call me Jimmy — was a time to ask Santa for a new glove and bat. And Santa never disappointed.
I would throw the ball against the garage, to my dad, or into a jump-back net where the ball came back to you. It didn’t matter if it was Christmas morning or New Year’s day, I was always throwing. I’d dream up 1,001 scenarios of what might happen to me in life while throwing that baseball. It was a glorious and truly wonderful time of the year.
I would call my friends around the neighborhood and ask them what they got, tell them what I got, and we’d meet up to throw a baseball, football, or shoot hoops, and then ride our bikes to the liquor store and get a Coke.
Those days are few and far between for most young people today. Everyone has a cell phone and social interaction is more about texting and sharing videos on TikTok than being outside climbing trees, riding your skateboard, or basically anything involving movement. Our society really isn’t safe enough to let our kids leave in the morning on their bikes and not hear from them until dinner.
But for us more “mature” folks that was our way of life, and it truly was wonderful to have that autonomy.
Most young players I see, who are serious about becoming baseball players and starring on their team, do things that are conducive to their development. Whether it’s hitting or pitching with a private coach, taking roundballs or fly balls with their parents, or even working with a strength coach, there’s a work ethic being built that will serve them well when they finish their career on the diamond.
Every December, I go to Houston for a 3-day coaching clinic where I get to spend time with friends of mine from across the country who are all involved with baseball as their occupation. Friends who are coaches on the field, in the front office, scouting and developing players, and, of course, other academy owners. The one thing I’ve noticed over the past 16 years of attending these conferences is the work ethic of those who are in either professional, college, or high school baseball. Most of these people played the game during their life, some longer than others. There is something about being part of a team and working harder than their peers that has helped put these people in positions of great importance.
The game has changed so much. Things such as knowing how to operate a computer, reading data and charts, and having personal relationships and working well with others are vital parts of being involved in baseball as a profession.
These are areas in your child’s life that are so important for their overall development, not just their baseball development.
But it does all start with a love of the game, a passion like no other. It starts with loving to play the game, loving the grind, and dealing with the highs and lows that baseball brings. It starts with a spark, like throwing the baseball around at a young age and not letting excuses like, “I had too much to do this week,” or, “It rained so I couldn’t,” stop you. Those statements shouldn’t be in anyone’s vocabulary. The only thing that takes us away from our goals and dreams is ourselves.
I truly believe it’s a wonderful time of the year because we get to make our goals and dreams come true every single day. I have tried to instill a great work ethic in all my children from an early age and, so far, I’m proud to say that for my two sons it’s working out great. My daughter is only 12 so there’s some work to be done, but I know she’s going to make her parents proud. That’s all we can ask of them by being an example they can look up to.
My wish for you this Christmas season is to encourage your children to be anything they want to be, because they can.
I also encourage you to contact us soon about training once the holidays are done. Tryouts for the spring are only about a month away, and we’ll certainly give your player the encouragement they need when they visit us in class!
Until next time…