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After cousin Archie Miller left for Indiana, Friedl finds home with Dragons

Published: Sunday, May 21, 2017 @ 5:33 PM

Dragons lead off hitter talks about the season.

T.J. Friedl was looking forward to playing in Dayton this season since he’d already lined up a place to live. The Dragons leadoff hitter was going to stay with his cousin until the cousin took a new job out of town.

That cousin is former Dayton Flyers head coach Archie Miller, who left for Bloomington, Ind. two weeks before the Dragons opened the season.

Friedl found a new place to live and then quickly moved into the top spot in the Dragons lineup.

“I think the biggest difference here is the pitching,” Friedl said. “The pitching in Billings was relative to college pitching so it was something I was used to.”

Friedl is tops on the team in extra-base hits this season with 11 doubles, five triples, and one home run.

“I never seek out a long ball, I never try to hit one,” he said. “If I start trying to hit home runs that’s when I get in trouble. I try and stick to the line drives because when I’m hitting good line drives that’s when I feel my best.”

Friedl didn’t have any scholarship offers coming out of high school. He then went undrafted after three years at the University of Nevada after Major League teams didn’t realize he was draft eligible.

“Yeah, I guess you could say overlooked is the word,” Friedl said. “But it’s gotten me to where I am today and I wouldn’t change a thing about it.”

The snub in the draft actually turned into a huge break for Friedl. As an undrafted free agent he was able to negotiate with any team and the offers came quickly.

The Reds ended up winning the bidding war and Friedl signed for $735,000, believed to be the largest deal for a domestic undrafted free agent.

“I’m always going to think of this as a game,” he said. “Everything that happens behind the scenes in the front office is their business and they always have their reasons. As long as I’m playing a kids’ game I’m not going to put any pressure on myself, just go out there and have fun.”

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Think you’re have a bad day? Read this

Published: Friday, January 26, 2018 @ 9:48 AM

There are days when we all feel sorry for ourselves — we have a migraine headache or the car won’t start or we didn’t get the promotion we felt we deserved.

In my case, there are days when I mope around because of my vision problems and try to remember what it was like when I could see clearly. And I don’t realize how fortunate I have been, what a charmed and wonderful life I have lived.

There are always others much worse off than you are and I tell myself that when I have down days.

Then I hear about a sports writer in Jamestown, N.Y., a 24-year-old, just a kid. And he needs a heart transplant. And he doesn’t feel sorry for himself. In fact, he is using his predicament as a forum to help others.

I heard about Cody Crandall from his sports editor, Scott Kindberg — a new friend. He told me Cody idolizes Aaron Boone and I intend to try to put Boone in touch with Cody.

Here is Cody’s story, as told by his sports editor, Scott Kindberg:

The text message from colleague and friend Cody Crandall arrived at 4:24 p.m. last Aug. 22.

“Hey, Scott. I’m not feeling very well today,” he punched into his phone. “I haven’t been breathing the greatest. I went to the doctor and he gave me some medicine and he wants me to get an X-ray on my chest. Would it be alright if I just worked on the Gridiron stuff from home tonight?”

Typical Cody, I thought that day five months ago. Here he was under the weather, and he was more concerned about completing his assignments for the newspaper’s annual high school football magazine than he was about his own health.

Two days later, there was this:

“Hey, Scott. I just got the results of my chest X-ray and the results came back abnormal. My doctor ordered me to go to the emergency room for further testing. I’ve been coughing up blood and I haven’t been able to sleep.”

Four hours after that, Cody’s mom, Lisa, delivered even more shocking news.

“He does have a blood clot in the lung and some pneumonia, too,” her text read. “The heart is enlarged and not functioning well. He will be going to Hamot.”

Hamot?

Just days earlier, Cody was playing in a softball tournament in Warren, Pennsylvania and now he was headed to UPMC-Hamot Hospital in Erie, Pa.

In an ambulance.

The diagnosis? Viral heart failure.

Doctors implanted a temporary heart pump to stabilize his cardiac function and he was then flown to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester. After two weeks there, Cody, who spent part of that time on a vent while in ICU, was released with the hope that his heart function would improve.

On Nov. 21, nearly three months to the day after falling ill, Cody was admitted to Strong again. Except with this visit there was no timetable for his release. Doctors advised him that it would be best if he was placed on the waiting list for a heart transplant.

Cody is 24 years old.

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The first time I met Cody was during the summer of 2015. He was working for the Jamestown Jammers. I had an opening on The Post-Journal’s sports staff, and he came highly recommended. I offered him a job and, thankfully, he accepted.

It didn’t take him long to get acclimated to his new digs. Heck, it was as if he was born to work at a newspaper. No. 1, I could tell that Cody not only loved sports, especially baseball, but he also was an outstanding writer. Secondly, there was not an assignment that he didn’t jump headfirst into. And, finally, he always made deadline.

“I have always been told that I’ve had that ‘grinder’ mindset, whether it’s been on the baseball field, in the classroom or in the office in a professional setting,” Cody said in an email. “I’ve realized that even more since August.”

A 2011 graduate of Jamestown High School, Cody was a member of the baseball team and an honor student, a combination that would later serve him well at Jamestown Community College, too.

“He was always a good kid,” said JHS varsity baseball coach Dave Roehmholdt, whose son, Ryan, has been a lifelong friend. ” … To see him go from 7 into his 20s, and watch him get a job and start working in the community is kind of nice.”

Cody received his bachelor’s degree from SUNY Fredonia. Three months later, he joined The Post-Journal sports department. Until his illness, Cody traveled the state covering high school sports; chronicled the Jammers, Jamestown CC athletics and golf tournaments; and wrote feature stories about area athletes that never ceased to make me proud.

So when I received that text in August, well, let’s just say I had my breath taken away.

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“When I first woke up in Rochester … was when I realized the seriousness of my condition,” Cody said. “I was educated by doctors and cardiologists here at Strong and my family filled me in on everything that had happened as well.”

But there were no answers to what caused the heart failure. One day he was playing in a softball tournament. A couple days later, he was in ICU.

“We were told it was viral, but determining the exact cause or virus is extremely difficult,” Cody said. “The doctors told my family and I that they weren’t sure how it happened or why it happened, but my primary focus should be striving toward recovery.”

Cody is also taking the opportunity to use his personal situation to promote organ donorship.

“Being here has made me realize how many people are in need of life-saving transplant surgeries,” he said. “Also, through my own research and through the staff here at Strong, I have realized that New York has long had poor participation in organ donation, ranking last among the 50 states. I don’t think a lot of people realize how serious of an issue it is. I know I certainly didn’t before I became sick.”

Dr. Himabindu Vidula of the Advanced Heart Failure program at Strong Memorial said that she first met Cody and his family when he came to the hospital on a temporary heart pump.

“We were eventually able to remove the pump and stabilize him with medications,” she said in an article for the hospital’s online newsletter. “However, his heart function did not recover and we needed to add him to the waiting list for a heart transplant. Cody has shown an incredible amount of strength as he deals with his heart failure and he is very motivated, which is important for a speedy recovery after transplant.”

According to Strong Memorial Hospital’s online newsletter, the number of people who need organ transplants far exceeds the number of organs donated each year. There are nearly 10,000 people in New York who need an organ transplant, according to the Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network, the organ procurement organization affiliated with the University of Rochester Medical Center, in partnership with other Upstate New York hospitals.

About 450 people, including Cody, are on Strong Memorial Hospital’s heart, liver, kidney or pancreas transplant program waiting lists.

“I certainly urge anyone to consider becoming an organ donor or reconsider becoming one if they aren’t,” Cody said. “You could potentially help so many other people in situations just like myself. It’s a simple process and you can join the state’s organ donor registry online at passlifeon.org or donatelife.ny.gov.”

Noted Roehmholdt, Cody’s high school coach: “Thinking of others right away. That’s definitely the kind of kid he is. I wasn’t surprised to hear it.”

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Cody has a boatload of friends. One of his best pals is Gannon Jackson. They live a three-minute walk from each other on Jamestown’s westside. Both are 2011 graduates of Jamestown High School and both love America’s pastime.

“When we played travel baseball, we used to do a drill (where) our coach would hit ground balls to us,” Jackson recalled. ” … He would keep speeding up the balls, hitting them harder and harder. He would hit them so hard, I’d get out of the way. Cody would be the only one taking them off the chest so he would be better at that position.”

Cody was a first baseman, both in high school and at Jamestown CC. Although he stands only about 5-foot-8, Jackson said his friend was “probably the best first baseman I’ve ever seen.”

“If he was 6-3 or 6-4, he would probably make it professionally,” Jackson said. “He was talented.”

While he may be vertically challenged, Cody stands tall in every other way, Jackson added, especially the way he’s handled his health challenges.

“It’s kind of flustering that it had to happen to him,” Jackson said. “It’s heartbreaking and flustering, (but) with his grinding mentality, he’s not giving up. He has high hopes and a smile on his face, no matter what he does.”

Cody’s positive attitude has inspired his friend, too.

“I would like to help raise awareness for this cause,” Jackson said. “I hope everybody else does their part to help Cody. He’s the greatest kid on the face of the earth.

“I always tell my mother that he’s going to end up losing one heart, but he’s going to come up with a new heart and embrace every second of it.”

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From the time he started working at The Post-Journal two and a half years ago, it was pretty clear that Cody had a special relationship with his parents, John and Lisa. An only child, Cody’s Facebook page is filled with photos of his family.

“I can’t describe how much my family has helped me since I became sick,” Cody said. “My parents have been here every step of the way. They have made countless trips from Jamestown to Rochester and, without them, I’m not sure where I’d be. My grandparents and aunts have also made several trips out here, and being around them always makes me feel better. My family’s constant love and support helps me push through.”

Cody also tries to remain as active as possible while awaiting his transplant. He walks “a bunch” around his unit at Strong. He passes the time with NBA League Pass, rooting on the Brooklyn Nets, the Portland Trail Blazers and the Los Angeles Clippers, along with watching a “ton of movies and TV shows.” Major League Baseball’s spring training starts in a couple weeks, which means Cody will be able to root on his beloved New York Yankees.

“I don’t think I’ll ever become accustomed to a ‘new normal’ here,” he said. “I’d much rather be living the life of a ‘normal’ 24-year-old guy, but I also realize how lucky and fortunate I am to have an opportunity like this to get better.”

To that end, Cody said he’ll continue to “attack each day with a positive mindset.”

“No matter how bad something seems, it could always be worse,” he said. ” … Don’t take anything for granted. Live your life to the fullest, take risks and step out of your comfort zone, because in an instant your life could change.”

In Cody’s case, his life did change last summer.

Fortunately, he didn’t let it change him.

“Life throws a lot at you, whether it’s stress, disappointment or any other unexpected challenge,” he said. “And I’ve come to realize that it’s important to focus on yourself.”

Through it all, however, Cody remembers to give thanks.

“The staff at Strong has been extremely accommodating. They have made my stay here bearable,” he said. “They always do everything they can to make sure I’m alright. I would also like to thank Dr. (James) Cirbus and the cardiac nurses at UPMC Chautauqua WCA, and the Busti Fire Department and Ladies Auxiliary for their support.”

Meanwhile, Cody continues to field those figurative ground balls that have been hit in his direction since just before Labor Day. And just like he did with his buddy, Gannon, during travel baseball workouts years ago, he hasn’t flinched a bit.

Because when you’re a “grinder,” that’s all you know.

“I know there are going to be tough days, I know it’s not going to be easy, but I’m always going to give it my best shot,” Cody said.

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To join the state’s organ donor registry online, go to passlifeon.org or donatelife.ny.gov.

 

 

 

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Hall of Fame voters got it right

Published: Wednesday, January 24, 2018 @ 2:59 PM

As usual, the writers got it mostly right this year in the baseball Hall of Fame balloting.

The Baseball Writers Association of America voters get their ears singed a lot over the voting process and who makes it and who doesn’t, but the process is extremely subjective and each voter is left to his own interpretations of who should get a vote and who shouldn’t.

So far, my record is perfect. Since I became a voter in 1978, every player voted into the Hall of Fame has received my vote.

But many for whom I have voted have not made it.

Nobody can argue about this year’s class of four. All four — Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome and Trevor Hoffman own solid Hall of Fame credentials.

Two who didn’t make it make me scratch my old head — Edgar Martinez and Fred McGriff.

Yes, I am a strong and stubborn critic of the designated hitter rule and Martinez made his name as a DH for the Seattle Mariners. Despite my protestations, the DH is a position — at least in the American League — and so far Martinez is the hands-down best DH of all-time.

If relief pitchers and closers can be Hall of Famers, why not DH’s? It took Trevor Hoffman longer to make it than I expected. And next year New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera will be on the ballot and probably will receive more than 90 per cent of the votes.

Hoffman’s story, of course, began with the Cincinnati Reds. He was a shortstop. A failed shortstop. So the Reds converted him into a pitcher, but they lost him to the Florida Marlins in the 1992 expansion draft.

The Marlins made him part of a trade to the San Diego Padres for Gary Sheffield in 1993 and Hoffman went on to record 601 saves.

The other head-scratcher is Fred McGriff, a guy who played 19 years and hit .283 with 493 home runs and 1,550 RBI. There are a lot of guys with plaques with lesser numbers. I’ve voted for McGriff every year on the ballot and next year is his final year on the ballot. He won’t make it, but he gets my vote.

And to answer the question every voter gets every year, “Did you vote for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens?”, my answer is no and no.

Both Bonds and Clemens are creeping up on the ballots. Both were in the 50s percentile this year (a player needs to be on 75 per cent of the ballots for enshrinement).

Some will say that there already are cheaters and PED users with plaques. They didn’t get my vote.

Scott Rolen was on the ballot this year for the first time and received only 10 per cent of the vote. He received my vote.

He finished his career with the Cincinnati Reds after playing in Philadelphia, St. Louis and Toronto. His numbers are glossy, just border-line, but there are other factors.

Character is supposed to be a major measuring stick and nobody surpasses Rolen. He was one of the best clubhouse leaders I ever encountered and his teammates revered him and always went to him for advice on every facet of the game.

And Rolen was one of the best third basemen of all time — Brooks Robinson calibre. Unfortunately, defense is not much taken into consideration, so the eight Gold Gloves Rolen won at third base aren’t taken much into account.

And while on the subject of the Cincinnati Reds, it is going to be a long, long time before a member of the Reds is enshrined — unless the veterans committees suddenly realizes that Vada Pinson might be a Hall of Famer.

The next Cincinnati player probably will be Joey Votto and that’s way, way down the road. Votto still has seven years remaining on his contract and must wait five years after he retires to be eligible. So that’s at least 12 years.

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HS Results 1/20: Trotwood boys knock off Northmont

Published: Saturday, January 20, 2018 @ 11:42 PM

The Trotwood boys basketball team routed GWOC foe Northmont, 76-73.

Myles Belyeu led all scorers with 30 points in the win.

Amari Davis tacked on 16 points and Justin Stephens 13.

Jabari Perkins and Jamaal Linson each chipped in 16 points for Northmont in the losing effort.

Ryan Foy added on 11.

The win moves Trotwood to 7-0 in conference and 10-3 overall.

Northmont drops to 1-5 in conference and 4-8 on the season.

Boys Basketball

Sidney 69, Lehman Catholic 44: Devan Rogers netted a double double, earning 19 points and 11 rebounds in the win. Logan Bunker and Preston Rodgers each tacked on 12 points in the loss.

Tippecanoe 66, Bellbrook 58: Donnie Crouch put up 20 points in the loss.

Spg. Shawnee 56, Stebbins 45: Camden Van Velzor sunk four from the three point line to lead all scorers with 26 points. Damiene Boles countered with one 3-pointer of his own and 17 points for Stebbins.

Clinton Massie 62, Waynesville 53: Thomas Myers had 17 points in the win.

Valley View 51, Springboro 49: Clayton Erbaugh and Ben Herman each shot for 15 points in the Valley View victory. Thomas Arrington countered with 14 points in the loss.

Fenwick 49, Alter 44: David Luers amassed 24 points in the Fenwick win, while C.J. Napier tacked on 20. Connor Bazelak had 20 points for Alter.

Ponitz 106, Yellow Springs 69: Demonte Bailey recorded his second consecutive double double with 27 points and 11 rebounds for Ponitz. Jaren Smith chipped in 22 points, 5 assists and four steals.

Stivers 68, Bowling Green 66, 2OT: Doug Spear led all scorers with 29 points, seven assists and six steals in the win. Da’juan Allen hit the winning basket with one second left in the second overtime period.

Cincinnati Christian 42, Taylor 33: Cole Martin shot for 15 points in the CC win.

West Liberty-Salem 75, Madison Plains 52: James Loffing notched 26 points to lead WLS. Max Eggleston tacked on 20.

Anna 71, Miami East 23: Griffin Doseck put up 21 points in the Anna victory. Dylan Hahn had seven in the losing effort.

Tri County North 50, Preble Shawnee 49: Dillon McCullough led with 17 points in the win.

Fort Loramie 52, Minster 51: Dillon Braun netted 23 points to lead all scorers in the win. Jarod Schulze had 15 for Minster in the losing effort.

Fort Recovery 47, Arcanum 30: Peyton Jutte and Ryan Braun recorded 15 points each in the win. Carter Gray tacked on 10 points to his season total for Arcanum.

St. Henry 60, Ansonia 40: Zach Niekamp, Ryan Luttmer and Parker Link combined for over half of St. Henry’s points in the win, chipping in 11 each. Hunter Muir netted 13 to lead Ansonia.

Girls Basketball

Butler 77, Xenia 29: Willow Knight netted 20 points in the win over Xenia.

Miamisburg 46, Greenville 42: Abby Cater led the scoring with 15 points for ‘Burg. Alex Sperry chipped in 11 and Kirah Pringle nine.

Springboro 53, Lebanon 46: Jordan Diehl sunk 21 points for Springboro. Kendall Folley dropped 15 for Lebanon.

Springfield 84, Mifflin 49: Mickayla Purdue added 28 points to her season total, tacking on 11 assists and 10 streaks. Caralyssa Byrd had 20 points and eight steals in the Africentric Nubian Classic win.

Stebbins 48, Sidney 38: Stebbins’ Kennedie Lingg recorded 20 points, five steals and three assists in the win.

Tippecanoe 60, Trotwood 45: Allison Mader and Maddie Fredereck each netted 18 points for Tipp.

Talawanda 60, Harrison 54: Talawanda’s Addie Brown scored a season high 27 points, 18 of which came from the three point line. Kyra Koontz tacked on her second double double of the season with 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Greenon 63, Catholic Central 45: Lydia Henry tallied 20 points in the Greenon victory. Abbigail Peterson countered with 24 in the loss.

Kenton Ridge 68, Jonathan Alder 64: Mikala Morris notched her 1,000th career rebound in the win over JA, putting up 24 points in the process.

Tecumseh 66, Bellefontaine 14: Corrine Thomas notched a triple double with 28 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists in the Tecumseh victory. Aubrey Stoll put up half of Bellefontaine’s points in the loss with seven.

Urbana 51, Graham 38: Alaina Lyons netted 18 points for Urbana and Marissa Horn tacked on 12 points and seven rebounds. Katelyn Nash recorded 10 points in the loss.

Bellbrook 55, Centerville 54: Cassidy Hofacker scored 17 points in the Bellbrook victory. Amy Velasco put up 10 in the loss.

Carlisle 52, Milton-Union 49: Christa Harris’ 19 points led all scorers in the win. Kristen Dickison had 16 points and four assists for MU.

Eaton 51, Brookville 22: Becca Mowen netted 15 points to lead all scorers in the Eaton win. Katlin Pistone shot for nine in the losing effort.

Monroe 51, Franklin 41: Sophie Sloneker and Olivia Wells-Daniels each chipped in 10 points in the Monroe victory. Layne Ferrell added 25 points to her season total in the loss.

Valley View 64, Oakwood 54: Valley View’s Hunter Stidham scored 30 points to lead in the win. Lauren Hapgood put up 22 for Oakwood.

Waynesville 54, Preble Shawnee 45: Rachel Murray tacked on 22 points to her season total in the win. Brenna Woodard recorded 14 for Preble.

Dunbar 51, Thurgood Marshall 37: Aria Cole netted 18 points and five steals, while Monet Allen tacked on a double double with 10 points and 10 rebounds in the win. Amari Scales and Taylor Dunson co-led with 10 points each in the loss.

Stivers 37, Meadowdale 13: Maya Randolph tallied 13 points in the Stivers win. Ilea Bradfield had four in the loss.

Carroll 48, Roger Bacon 38: Julia Keller put up 16 points for Carroll.

Chaminade Julienne 66, Badin 52: Dallas Jones added 17 points to her season total to help snap Badin’s seven game win streak. Emma Broermann’s double double with 20 points and 12 rebounds came in the loss.

Fairbanks 56, Triad 42: Cati LeVan shot for 11 points in the loss.

Greeneview 62, Southeastern 33: Frankie Fife recorded 23 points to lead all scorers in the win. Leslie Flores amassed 11 in the losing effort.

West Jefferson 54, Northeastern 41: Hayley Suchland tallied 24 points in the loss.

Cincinnati Christian 69, New Miami 13: Briahana Bush tallied 18 points in the win over New Miami. Arielle Scalf recorded over half of NM’s points, putting up seven.

Middletown Christian 61, East Dayton Christian 50: Jordan Wolfenbarger led with 11 points in the MC win.

Arcanum 56, Dixie 30: Kayla O’Daniel netted 16 points in the Arcanum win. Mckinlee Ruppert led all scorers with 18 in the losing effort.

Bethel 58, Dayton Christian 50: Olivia Reittinger earned 16 points in the Bethel victory.

Covington 61, Newton 37: Samantha Whiteman continued her streak of leading Covington with 28 points in the winning effort. Tatum McBride shot for 11 for Newton.

Franklin Monroe 47, St. Henry 38: Audrey Cable shot for one from the three point line, putting up 17 points in the FM win. Alyssa Buschur countered with 13 for St. Henry.

Minster 55, Ottoville 54: Courtney Prenger scored 22 points in the winning effort.

Versailles 65, Celina 23: Kami McEldowney recorded 27 points in the Versailles victory.

Fort Loramie 67, Fairlawn 21: Kenzie Hoelscher scored 12 points in the FL win.

Lehman Catholic 68, Mississinawa Valley 25: Lauren McFarland tallied 17 points to lead in the win. Taylor Stachler had 10 for MV in the loss.

Wrestling

Comet Classic: Butler took home first place overall, while Versailles took home third. Tecumseh finished sixth and Xenia 15th.

HIT Classic: Northwestern finished seventh overall out of 20 teams with 101.5 points. West Carrollton came in with 77.0.

Golden Panthers Tournament: Monroe and Ponitz finished in first and second respectively, with Trotwood taking fourth. Travis Travis won at 138 for Ponitz and De’Angelo Edwards at 145.

Sycamore Invitational: Caleb Blake placed second at 145 for Tippecanoe. Tipp finished 12th overall as a team with 64.0 points.

Swimming

Bellbrook Invitational: Bellbrook finished first overall in combined scoring and girls scoring, while Badin took home first for boys. Bellbrook’s Cody Bybee won both the boys 50 and 100 yard freestyle.

Gymnastics

Elk Invitational: Miamisburg took home first place with a season high score of 137.675. Leah Myers took home 4th place on vault, 3rd on bars , 1st on floor and 2nd overall.

REPORTING RESULTS

Contact the Cox Media Group Ohio (Dayton Daily News, Springfield News-Sun and Journal-News) with scores and results as soon as possible after varsity high school athletic contests by email only at sports@coxohio.com. Please include any details from your contest that you would like published along with a contact name and phone number. All printed results will be final scores only.

A daily roundup of high school results will be posted on each paper’s website at:

DaytonDailyNews.com/sports/

SpringfieldNewsSun.com/s/sports/

Journal-News.com/sports/

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Awesome: The lessons learned by Brandon Larson

Published: Sunday, January 07, 2018 @ 6:06 PM

Shortly after the National Anthem concluded before the University of Dayton-Massachusetts basketball game Saturday at UD Arena, a fan tapped me on the shoulder and said, “How many times have you stood for the National Anthem?”

That’s something I’d never thought about. Considering that I’ve covered more than 7,000 baseball games, hundreds of college and high school football and basketball games, a slew of auto racing events, a whole bunch of pro football and basketball games, I’d say the total easily surpasses 10,000 times.

I can recite the words backwards (but don’t test me on it).

And a couple of days later, former Cincinnati Reds pitcher and clubhouse comedian Kent Mercker, of one my all-time favorite players, shared something penned by former teammate Brandon Larson.

It shocked me.

Larson was a first-round draft pick by the Reds in 1997 out of Louisiana State University, where he hit something like 40 home runs.

But it didn’t transfer to the major leagues. In four years with the Reds (2001-2004), he played only 109 games and hit .179 with eight home runs.

He is probably best known for breaking his arm in the visitor’s dugout in St. Louis. He did it when he tried to dodge a foul ball and fell to the floor.

He was a pleasant fellow, an outgoing guy that teammates enjoyed having around and he was often the butt of pranks and jokes and took them all with a smile.

As a No. 1 draft pick, he was a failure on the field. But if you think he slinked away from the game bitter and disillusioned, you are most assuredly dead wrong.

This is what Larson penned, as shared by Mercker. What it means to be a pro.

“For anyone who wants to know, this is what it means to be a professional baseball player: My job was on the line every single day.

That taught me work ethic.

If we weren’t good enough, we didn’t play. And if we didn’t play, we didn’t get promoted. That taught me competitiveness.

People would get released or demoted literally every week, and we’d have to see the look on their faces as they cleaned out their locker in front of the whole team, as their dream came to an end. That taught me compassion.

When we failed or performed poorly, we did it with a spotlight on us in front of hundreds and thousands of people, with no excuses to hide behind and no one to blame but ourselves. And then the next day, we’re right back in front of that same disappointed crowd, but we couldn’t let that affect us at all. That taught me mental toughness.

I was on the road for about 7-8 months out of the year, missing out on family, friends, holidays and relationships. That taught me sacrifice.

There were times when we would outperform our competition, do noticeably better than them, go above and beyond what was expected of us… and still receive no recognition or promotion. Whether it be because of the person’s name, or who they know. That taught me that life isn’t always fair.

And on the opposite end of the spectrum, I have seen people less talented than others train extremely hard and just plain outwork/outhustle their competition, and then get recognized and promoted above the more talented player because of it. That taught me that hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.

If I was late, I was fined, fired, or left behind. That taught me to be punctual.

When you live, travel, work and hang out with the same people everyday, you become close to them and form a bond. You become family. And then in a few months, the season ends and they are gone and you may never see them again. That taught me the value of friendship.

When I saw, heard and felt the love, respect and admiration from the fans, old and young… that taught me humility.

I got to listen to the National Anthem (hundreds of times each year) before my job starts each night. That taught me pride and patriotism for my AWESOME country we live in

But to think others sacrificed their lives so I could chase a dream and play a game. That taught me perspective. I try to never take the little things for granted.

I have a masters degree in Real Life. It has to be lived. You can’t teach it. I have failed in a season, more than most fail in a lifetime and still wanted more. Because that’s how baseball players are wired.
You do what you’ve gotta do, no matter what.

The looks alone on all the little kids’ faces when they see you approaching them, like they think you are Derek Jeter and whatever you say to them is gospel. That you could change and influence a child’s day/week/month/year or even life by the way you treat them in the next few seconds or the next few words you say to them. And that’s when I realized that even though I was the one playing the game, and I was the one who all the kids looked up to and came to see, it really wasn’t about me, at all. And that taught me my favorite lesson…selflessness.”

What an unbelievable tribute to a game that looked as if it defeated Larson. But this shows it was just the opposite. And the next time I stand for the National Anthem, I will think about Brandon Larson.

 

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