An Ode to Ball Sports
EDITOR’S NOTE: JOEY’S ORIGINAL TITLE FOR THIS TIN TALK WAS: “THINGS THAT INFLUENCED MY RUNNING CAREER THAT HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THE SPORT OF RUNNING.” BUT THAT WAS OBJECTIVELY TOO LONG, SO, HERE WE ARE.
I looked up to a lot of athletes growing up, but no one came even close in comparison to the influence that Derek Jeter had on me as a kid. Typically, I don’t resonate with the superstars of sports—people that are talented out of the womb and are seemingly destined for greatness, excelling at all levels of the sport. To be quite honest, I couldn’t relate because that just wasn’t me. I’ve always felt like a bit of an underdog of sports, a late bloomer. But Jeter was different to me. He showed me how to lead by example; that your actions are going to speak a lot louder than anything you could say. He had a quiet, stoic disposition to him on the field. Watching him play, it felt almost as if he knew there was no telling what could happen next, but whatever it was, he was ready for it. He had every reason to be the cockiest player on the field—talk the most shit, do whatever he wanted. Because at the end of the day, he was going to get the job done. In some ways, he probably was the cockiest player on the field, but he kept those thoughts and emotions to himself. How he carried himself on the field is how I aspire to carry myself on the track.
BIGGIO’S BIG NIGHT:
One event in sports history that has always stuck with me since the day I saw it live was Craig Biggio’s 3,000th hit. I knew Biggio was Hall of Fame talent, but I was not necessarily a fan of his until that day. Biggio’s 3,000th hit was nothing special—a RBI single to right center. But what was special about that hit was the fact that he tried to stretch it into a double and got thrown out at second by a mile. He could have easily jogged to first off of that hit, taken in the moment, waved to the fans, gotten the standing ovation, etc. But I could just see in his eyes, from the second he hit that ball, that he was going for two. Not a moment of hesitation. The pure hustle from Biggio on that play is why I’ll forever be a fan of his, and why that moment will always resonate with me. In a moment of triumph, he wanted more. He probably knew there was a good chance that he’d be thrown out at second, but he wouldn’t know unless he tried. He wasn’t afraid of failure in that moment.
When you grow up in the same hometown and go to the same high school as arguably the greatest NFL quarterback of all time, you carry a certain mindset with you in regards to sports. Brady was always looked over, but never gave up on himself. He took advantage of every opportunity when they were presented to him. He always believed in himself and that’s all he needed. I went into Junipero Serra High School, looking to become one of the greatest athletes to ever walk those halls, knowing I already had stiff competition. Brady, Barry Bonds, Lynn Swann, Jim Fregosi, to name a few.
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