I dedicated 22 years of my life to baseball.
Everyday I lived and breathed the game. I played other sports for the purpose of being a better baseball player. I got good grades so I could play baseball without school interfering. I stayed out of trouble (for the most part) because I didn't want anything hurting my chances of getting recruited to play college baseball.
My whole life has been determined by a little white round ball. All the places I've been, the people I've met, and the feats I've accomplished can be accredited to baseball. While I retired at age 25, I still owe everything I have to the game.
Baseball was good to me, but it did not come without sacrifice. I remember going to school and hearing about kids going skiing for winter vacations or going dirt biking and looking upon them with a slight hint of envy, envious that they got to experience all of life's vast array of fun activities while I dedicated myself to one game over and over again.
I felt like a specialized worker - only good at one thing on account of lack of exposure to the other sports and activities that the rest of my peers enjoyed.
Around the time when Facebook started becoming popular, I remember looking at my friends pages, seeing albums full of them with their friends out at birthday parties, crazy events, and performing cool stunts.
All I had were a couple baseball photos and a selfie that I took with my cousin.
Throughout the years, I've sacrificed time with friends and family, sleep, meals, spring and winter breaks, summer vacations, and relationships all for the purpose of working to excel at baseball. For some, the tradeoff just doesn't seem worth it.
While working on my craft, I was always the "one more" kid. No swing in the cage was ever good enough to be my last. This mentality made hour-long hitting sessions last twice to three times as long as they should have. The blisters on my hands from swinging a bat so much turned to calluses before I entered my junior year of high school. I had to have multiple hitting partners in order to feed my craving. When one didn't feel like hitting that day, I would move onto to the next. I would hit until they got tired of it - I was never the first one to tap out. It was like a game of "who loves the game more?" to me. To them it was simply hitting a baseball a few times until they got bored.
It's funny. Many people tend to do something so much they grow tired and become burned out. The more baseball I played, the more I became obsessed with it. My passion for the fine tune movements and thought process of a hitter drove me to dive into the informational side of the game. I was learning something new everyday, which gave every hitting session the day after a higher purpose.
Making sacrifices to do the same thing everyday can seem like insanity to many, but to me it was easy. The feeling of accomplishment I got from seeing myself outwork everyone else day in and day out was enough to keep me going, even when my performance wasn't necessarily at its best. I couldn't always control my talent level, but I could control my work, and that was enough.
When you do something for long enough, you form habits. Motivation becomes discipline, and discipline becomes satisfaction. Doing anything requires sacrifice. It's about what you are willing to sacrifice. Do you want to sacrifice long term prosperity or short term rewards? Sadly, most people choose instant gratification over long term results because the long term results cannot be seen.
When you struggle to see the end, and you're presented with a road of short term temptation, focus on the passion. Use your passion to develop good habits, and feel the accomplishment of slowly getting better than everybody else on account of you being the first one to the field and the last one to leave. Take pride in it.
I dedicated 22 of my life to baseball, and I wouldn't have it any other way.