Take Me Out to the Ball Game 101

One family's trek to professional baseball

I'm writing this blog series at the urging of an unlikely source--a sports agent.  You know, a Jerry Maguire, he was an agent who was vying to represent our son in the 2008 amateur draft.  I'll give you his name later, somewhere in the following blog entries when I take on the task of describing one family's fantastic journey to professional baseball. 

Jarret at the Area Code Games in 2006
He thought I'd done my due diligence in our search for an agent--a search, by the way, we neither initiated nor anticipated.  It came to our door, and I dealt with it the most efficient, possibly obsessive way I knew how.  But to dedicate a blog to the search of an agent would eliminate much of the fun we had along the way (the agent part wasn't something I'd like to relive), so I'm going to include our experiences from tee-ball to little league, from travel teams to high school, the showcase circuit, through our search for the right college and, ultimately, the right adviser.  By the time I finish this project, I'll tell you the outcome of all that hard work (although some of you already know or will gather from the photos I post along the way).  However, there was a day when we didn't know if our son would be drafted by Major League Baseball or play collegiate ball for one of the finest baseball universities in the nation... or if a dreaded injury would end his career before it could begin.

Don’t stop reading if you can’t tell an umpire from a football referee, or if you’d rather hold a hockey stick than a bat.  Our experience transcends strikes and outs, homeruns and stolen bases.  There are super athletes in every sport, phenoms, high school (or travel ball) players that tend to excel at a more rapid rate than that of their contemporaries.

Jarret Martin and Craig Landis, 2008
If you didn't land on this blog by mistake, then you may have been Googling something to do with the MLB baseball draft, sports agents, or just a love of baseball.  You love it, you have a son or a grandson, nephew, brother, or friend who loves it, and you have a million questions about "the process."  The process begins as soon as the child shows an affinity for a sport and sometimes never ends (two words: men's softball).  Indeed, as long as there is the love of and the ability to play any sport, a dream exists of being a professional athlete.

I don't have all the answers, but I have a lot.  The agent who proposed this project first suggested that I write it as a blog so that other parents, finding themselves in the similar quicksand of amateur baseball, could use my dogged research as a rope to pull them from their black hole of confusion.  The more I looked around, though, the more I realized that high school baseball players aren’t the only kids being scouted/pursued/hounded by agents, colleges, and professional clubs. Then, the more I started thinking about our experiences and people I've met, information I've uncovered, places we've been, text messages and emails I've received, and relationships I've developed, I realized that squeezing everything into an online journal may have the feeling of a disjointed Major League version of Cliff's Notes, but at least it's better than what I had when I was going through the process: nothing.  

The following blog entries will reveal how we overcame the same politics you think are unique to certain all-star teams or to your local Little League.  I may surprise you with my opinion of showcases and travel ball MVP awards. I will give you my impression of pitching and hitting coaches.  I'll refer to a common baseball phenomenon most parents will recognize from Little League days, and I'll talk agents, scouts, and high school coaches. 

Junior year of high school
This blog will have a happy ending, I assure you.  When I first started thinking about writing on this topic, there were eight months until the MLB draft.  Although we didn't know whether our son would be drafted with a multi-million dollar contract, go to college, or leave the sport for good, we learned some things along the way.  Baseball America might have your son ranked nationally among other high school players, he may be earning every MVP award on his travel ball squad, or maybe sports agents are already making regular visits to your home, but most of the players drafted in the 50 rounds on Draft Day will be surprised by where they were (or were not) picked. If any of this sounds familiar, you're in luck: Your son is already in a win-win situation.  Congratulations.  He seems to have a safety net.

However, if you're reading this to learn how to get to the "bigs," don't.  It's not why I'm writing it.  I'm writing it with the hope that this crash course I've had in Major League 101 will benefit the parents who fumble through the sports process either blinded or overwhelmed by the speed with which things move.  One day, your son is on a co-ed infield playing tee-ball in the Parks and Recreation league; the next thing you know, he’s 6’3” throwing a 93 mph fastball, and there are advisers in parking lots claiming they will show you the money.   

I hope that you will find many coincidences in the following blogs, and that reading how one family dealt with similar issues will be a comfort and give you confidence as you move through the various stages in your athlete’s life. 

Keep reading, and enjoy the ride. 

I know we have.

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