I was taking my turn at batting practice for our church softball team at Shabbona Park in Park Forest, a suburb on the south side of Chicago. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed an older gentleman dressed in a blue suit leaning against the fence watching me hit softballs. I was hitting the balls over the 320 foot outfield fence onto people’s roofs. I would look at this man as I got ready for another pitch. It was between my senior year in high school and freshman year in college. I had never had any adult watch me during batting practice.
I was a big kid at 225 and 5’11”, and could hit the ball a ton. I batted for about 10 minutes. After I was done, I walked over to get a drink of water. As I approached the drinking fountain, the older man walked towards me with a business card in his hand and handed it to me. He extended his right hand and shook mine. He introduced himself by his name and said that he was a scout for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He asked if I had ever considered playing professional baseball. I stood there looking at his business card with the logo of the Pirates, his name and phone number.
My teammates watched from a distance, not knowing what was going on, as this man and I spoke! I was in shock to say the least. He told me he was impressed with the distance I was hitting balls during batting practice. I played in a fast pitch league in the Chicago area, and he had watched me play in several games. He said that I was a good second baseman and had the speed and knowledge to play professional baseball. I listened to him, and many things raced through my mind. He then said, “Give me a call and we can talk.” I wondered, would my dad be in agreement? What about my college education?
I have heard of sports stories like this happening to others, but not to anyone I knew. So, this Pittsburgh Pirates scout talked for a little while longer. He walked to his car, got in and left. I stared at him as he drove away. I thought to myself, “What just happened here?” My friends walked over to me and asked, “Who was that guy?” I told them that he was a scout for the Pittsburgh Pirates. They all said “No way, you’re lying!” until I showed them the business card with the logo of the Pirates on it.
As I got into my old Ford Fairlane and headed home, the excitement hit me. What will my dad say? I wanted to drive to his work and tell him, but decided to wait till he got home. When he got home, I raced out to where he parked the car in the driveway. I started talking excitedly and handed him the business card of the scout. He tried slowing me down, and I had to repeat my story several times. As we walked into the house he said we would talk later.
My dad had his supper and called me in to talk with him. He said that my college was more important than pursuing a baseball career. He said that most kids that go into baseball don’t make it, only some of the exceptions do. We talked over all the pros and cons of getting into professional baseball. I could see his point. He went to college at the University of Minnesota, and never completed his education because of World War Two. He wanted me to go get an education and find something that I wanted to do in life. Looking back and seeing where my life is now, I made the right decision by getting my college education.
I see kids now, trying to figure out what they want to do in life. Some decide that they will go to college after finding themselves. Many never will set foot on a college campus after taking a few years off. Some go to tech schools, which is great! Others follow in the steps of their parents and work in the family business, another great option. My choice was to go to a state college, meet new people, make lifetime friends, and get my college diploma. If you are having a hard time deciding on what to do about your future, no matter what your age, remember that college is for everyone that wants to go!
I have worked with people in their 60’s, 70’s and 80’s that had a desire to take some college courses. They enjoyed the classroom settings, got to share life experiences with the class, and made some new young friends.
Here are some questions you need to ask yourself: Do, I still dream about going to college? Do, I wish I would have completed my college education? Do I have regrets? I wonder if I can be accepted into a college program? Is there an online college degree that I can obtain? If you have these questions or more running through your mind, lets talk. I can help you! I say it’s never too late to do the things you once dreamed about. The only regret is doing nothing to make them happen.