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Wednesday, 25 July 2012 09:14

The unsung heroes of baseball: the die-hard player

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Through what lens do you perceive the game of baseball? It is evident that the game can be viewed in various different ways. The casual fan sees the game very differently than the savvy, stat-reciting, season ticket holder.

 

A player’s perception of the game is undeniably different from that of the fan. His exposure to the intricacies of baseball, both good and bad, has firmly molded his outlook on the sport. Players’ views themselves vary as well. Veterans seem to have better foresight into crucial plays of a game, while rookies may not notice these game changing situations until they have passed.
We all view the game in our own unique way. This deeply personal relationship with baseball is ever changing. It seems that as we are promoted into leagues like the WMBL, NCAA Division 1, and Division 2, our boyish view of baseball has been lost along the road of free equipment and full scholarships. The days when we eagerly looked forward to that one game a week have vanished. The games where we played every position on the field have been substituted for finding which summer baseball league has the best looking women. For most of us, our perception of baseball has sadly transformed from potential path to the big leagues, to simply a means to something else.
Most of the 2012 Swift Current Indians currently play, have played, or will play on scholarship at a post secondary institution in the United States. Almost everyone has or will receive some form of monetary compensation for their baseball talents at their respective school. Although some aspire to, and have good opportunity to, play professionally, most will play out their careers and receive a discounted university degree. Yes, we baseball players indirectly sell our talents to receive a diploma.
As I make plans to follow in the path of former Indians Dan Rogers, Tim Jones, and Joey Evans by playing baseball in Australia this coming winter, this thought of baseball being an instrument or a tool frequently crosses my mind. Has all love of baseball been lost in hidden agendas and ulterior motives?
The true heroes of baseball are not seen. They are not paid meal money, they are not reimbursed for travel expenses, and they are not provided with living accommodations. They are not on TSN because these players play in the sandlots of baseball and parks with all dirt infields. The true baseball lover sees baseball for what it is, a game played for fun, with no promise of riches and travel opportunity. The die-hard player perceives the game as an opportunity to enjoy themselves, not a method of receiving perks and free cleats. These players are a dying breed. 

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Alex Tufts

Alex Tufts is a pitcher with Swift Current Indians of the Western Major Baseball League. His column will run every week during baseball season.