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From the Batter’s Box to the Box Office

November 29th, 2017

By Louis Reyes

Growing up in Miami, I had the cliché dream of one day playing for the Hurricanes. I hoped that my dedication, passion, and hustle for the game as well as my ability to play any position was going to get me on a Division I roster. From my freshman year of high school to my senior year of college I started each year at a new position because of my athleticism as well as my knowledge of knowing the responsibilities of every player out on the field.

My logic in high school was that if I joined summer league teams that went to huge tournaments from Jupiter, FL to Fort Myers, FL to East Cobb, GA to Myrtle Beach, SC year after year that I would begin to turn heads. As my high school years winded down I had no offers going into my last summer of travel baseball. I soon realized that sitting back and waiting for a scout to approach me was no longer realistic. I didn’t know if I was allowed to do it or how to even approach them but took matters into my own hands and began emailing college coaches. I received more responses than I imagined, but all I collected were “sorry our roster is full” or “maybe you can go to a JUCO and transfer.”

To be honest, the two things I told my coaches were I wanted to be at a 4-year school and I did not want to leave Florida. Who would ever want to leave Florida to play baseball? I would have sacrificed my academics to play baseball in college and that’s exactly what I did. Just one month before the first day of classes I was offered a scholarship to play at NAIA Northwood University in West Palm Beach, FL. I later came to find out that it was a solely business school. Personally, I actually listened when people used to tell us baseball players that we needed a Plan B. My Plan B was to become a Civil Engineer and assist in the construction of sport facilities. This is where I sacrificed my academics and exchanged my potential Engineering degree for a future Sport Management bachelor’s degree. I knew I needed some type of education to fall back on if baseball did not work out and did everything I could to give 110% in the classroom and on the field.

To skip forward a little, I played my freshman year on the JV team. At the end of the year I essentially found out that I would be charged a year of eligibility with no official statistics. Once again, I would sacrifice playing baseball over receiving a degree from a great business institution. I remember the day like it was yesterday. I made one call to my former coach who I give the utmost thanks to for putting his players first in making sure they get every opportunity to play in college. It took all but 5 minutes for me to tell him my plan, him to make a call and then call me back. He said “you’re going to get a call from a weird number, just answer it.”

Within seconds, my phone began to ring. “Hi, this is Coach Jamie Shevchik from Keystone College in Pennsylvania.” Knowing absolutely nothing about the school or baseball program we talked about where I can play and what I am looking for. His next words were “How do you feel about coming this spring?” I was speechless because classes were set to be back in session in 2 weeks and I was about to make one of the most important decisions of my life. A decision that I would come to never regret.

After sitting back and visualizing what I wanted to do for myself, I sat my parents down and told them I decided that I was going to play baseball in Northeast PA. I knew that I did not want to leave Florida but am a big believer in receiving signs from above and this was a door that opened a new path for me to take. About 5 days later I was on a plane set to embark on a new journey. With the season just weeks away from starting my sophomore year and a team full of seniors, I made the tough decision of sitting out the year to hit to the gym, take countless cuts in the cages and infinite reps on the field to come back better and stronger. I did not take into account that I would have to wear 3 layers of thermals and Dri-FITs to be able to somewhat function in this constant below 30 degree weather. I had never seen snow nor been in a cold climate environment but made every precaution to avoid injury and push through the bearing pain in my hands from the sting of the bat and ball.

With hard work and commitment I came back and became a starter my sophomore, junior, and senior years. In my last year, we continued the success of the program winning our 12th straight conference championship. We were fortunate enough to win regionals and advance to the Division III World Series for just the second time in school history. After sweeping our first 3 games and advancing to the National Championship we lost the series and finished National Runner-Ups. For most of us seniors, the realization came that we have made it thus far and now our baseball careers are over. How can you cope with coming so far and leaving with nothing but what is now an unforgettable memory and no ring on our finger to show for it. That night felt endless as it brought nothing but tears, a long ride home and a question of “What now?”

A 20-year baseball career suddenly came to an end on the highest stage. With becoming a Major Leaguer still in my mind I traveled to several open tryouts. I will admit, I feel that I performed at the top of my game but unfortunately kept hearing my name on the cut list. I walked out of the stadiums with my head held high got into my car, prayed and said to myself “At least I gave it one last hurrah.”

There comes a time when you have to involuntarily walk away from the game you love. Baseball provides us with many life lessons and the quality that sticks with me is optimism. My favorite quote is “the sky’s the limit.” We are in control in the driver’s seat and we are all given opportunities throughout life. We ourselves must be confident and positive to guarantee our happiness through nature’s course. It now came the time to pull that Plan B card out of my back pocket.

My wife and I made the decision to move to Florida and start our lives. If I wasn’t able to live my life on the field, I wanted to begin one in the office of a professional organization. After several denials in baseball operations, scouting and player development, I was given the opportunity to work as an intern in ticket operations at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, FL which is the Spring Training home of the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals as well as the Minor League home of the Class-A Advanced Jupiter Hammerheads and Palm Beach Cardinals.

I now humbly learn about other departments in hopes of making my way to the top.  My career has only begun as I have been promoted to Ticket Operations Assistant Manager and obtained a 2017 Florida State League Championship ring.

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3 Responses to “From the Batter’s Box to the Box Office”

  1. Mikal B. says:

    From one Keystone Giant to another, thanks for sharing your experience, thoughts and dreams. A great piece of writing here you should be proud of. I too played a team sport at Keystone, and going there vs other schools was a decision I too have never regretted. And the friends I made among teammates — they’re some of the best friends I have. Best of luck pursuing your hopes and dreams. And remember… Failing to prepare is simply preparing to fail.

    • Louis R. says:

      Thank you very much Mikal! Keystone being such a small school, you definitely not only make a lasting relationship with teammates, but also with other students and even the professors.

  2. Guillermo Pedrosa says:

    Solo le pido a Dios que te bendiga mucho por el gran corazón que tienes se que toda la familia se siente muy orgulloso de ti y en esta nueva vida llena de responsabilidad se que vas a ser un ejemplo para muchos niños que tanto lo nesecitan no dejes de ser quien eres y seguiremos viviendo orgulloso de ti y de quien vas hacer día a día . Yo como tú tío y familiares nos sentimos premiados por el sobrino que tenemos. Gracias Dtb

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