New York City- Tuesday’s MLBPAA Legends For Youth Dinner in New York City provided an opportunity for former and current major league players to connect through a shared passion: the future of baseball.
The game as they knew it has changed and so has their place in it. But what hasn’t changed is their deep love and dedication to improving baseball. And reaching young players pursuing careers with the clinics players participate in gives kids a chance to imagine and work at baseball skills they might one day use professionally. For now, they’re having fun and learning some valuable lessons from some of baseball’s best.
Here, Dave Winfield, and Jamey Carroll impart wisdom to minor league players hoping for and working toward a long career in the majors.
Jamey Carroll (Infielder; Expos/Nationals, Rockies, Indians, Dodgers, currently Twins; MLB debut in 2002)
“Being part of the alumni association and put on the clinics for kids is huge for the kids. To continue the game, stuff like this is important. I’m thankful to be part of this event.”
Cracking Down on Performance Enhancers in MLB:
“I think we’re doing the best we can to eliminate [PED’s]. We want to show that you can still play this game regardless of past situations. Looking at the game this year and how it went, I think we did a good job with guys that try to cut corners. Those who did were caught.”
“I think I’m the perfect example that it’s not always the biggest guys that get to play. I take a lot of pride in that. I do my best to compete at this level. I want kids to realize they can go out there and have success without the use of anything. We’re improving testing each time and next year there’s the HGH testing. We’re trying to ensure that this game can be healthy.”
Looking Back on the Bus Leagues:
“I played seven years in the minor leagues. One of the main things I learned was that if I still had a uniform on, I still had an opportunity. I didn’t get called up until I was twenty-eight. I was realizing at that point, maybe I needed to find something else to do. I knew I could go out and get a job anywhere else and make more money, but as long as I had that uniform on there was possibility. You can always go back to school. But if you have the opportunity to play professionally, do what you can.
I think every player will tell you it’s a grind. It’s a drive. You really have to love it. Control what you can. I learned that there’s a lot of things going on and a lot of players running around, but there’s only a certain amount you can control. You take that and run with it.”
“Sure [there were times I doubted myself]. There were times I’d look in the mirror and wonder what is this I’m doing? I started YEAR in Triple-A not playing. That’s when I started thinking this may be the end for me. Then somebody got hurt and I took advantage of the situation. It’s a matter of where you’re at and what you’ve done along the way. In any job when you’re going through some tough times, they have to check themselves and see what they can do, whether it’s making a change or fighting their way through.”
Dave Winfield (Outfielder; Padres, Yankees, Angels, Blue Jays, Twins, Indians; MLB debut 1973; Retired 1995; Lifetime .283, 3, 110 Hits, 465 home runs)
“This [Lifetime Achievement Award] is a pleasure and an honor to receive it with my man Rusty Staub. I feel a little young for it, but I’ll take it. I support the good works that [the MLBPAA] does. They put on over 80 national and international clinics. And they’re free. Not only in baseball, but the golf events. The camaraderie with the players, it’s a good organization. It’s steady. Even the guys playing today, I applaud them for becoming members.”
Youth Baseball Today:
“Baseball is not as readily available to kids as it used to be. Every dad in the neighborhood was a baseball coach when I was growing up. Now most of them don’t know the game. There’s also the costs. It’s not free like it was when I played. Then there’s the connectedness. From 8-18, there’s very few communities that are doing it the way they used to. Baseball has to continue to be creative.”
Advice to Minor League Players
“Sometimes, that’s the problem. People talk about the pressure, the pressure...are you doing what you love? If you’re playing professionally at any level, you’ve got to feel good about yourself. If you have confidence, it kind of works in your favor. You have to look at it like, you don’t always succeed. I didn’t always succeed, but mostly when I played it was a good year one way or another. There’s so much media today and focus on pressure. If you can’t handle pressure, don’t play.”
They can’t think about [what media says] all the time. That can’t be the primary focus. If you want to succeed, you go out there and do what you do. It’s like running for president. You can win and half the people don’t like you. Don’t worry about it. Do your thing.”
“I’m always going to look fondly upon the coaches that helped me. I think really giving it all I had everyday, if you’re going to participate, give it all you have. And be prepared. More that that, you know, don’t make excuses for what happens. A lot of stuff happens in life. We expect a straight line, but life unfolds. Many times if you don’t achieve something when you want or how you want, don’t make excuses, keep on going. That among other lessons, how to take care of yourself and everything. And I never put any limits on myself. Don’t put limitations on what you can do. Had I done that, I don’t think I would’ve achieved what I did. I look back and people say, ‘Man, you knew you were going to do this. You knew you’d be an All-Star and Hall of Famer...no way I wasn’t even the best young athlete coming up. Growing up, I wasn’t the fastest, I had a good arm...but you never know what you’re going to achieve. I just never put any restrictions or limitations on what I’d be able to accomplish.”