When I was a junior in high school, my head coach gave me a compliment that would stick with me for years to come. That single complement directly affected the rest of my baseball career and has continued to impact my life off the field ever since. He called me a Gamer.
He tried his best to explain what he meant to a room full of us at our end-of-the-season dinner. He talked about work ethic and focus, being a good teammate and dedication to excellence. He talked about playing hard every day.
While I was certainly grateful for those compliments, I didn’t feel that his definition was complete. Ever since, I’ve been compiling thoughts on what it means to be a Gamer, both on and off the field.
Here are a few of the gems I’ve come up with so far:
The Gamer controls the controllables. The umpire can’t make a bad strike three call if you’re swinging the bat.
The Gamer does his job. He lays down bunts. He hits the ball behind runners (with authority). If he catches, he blocks pitches. If he pitches, he runs.
The Gamer does the hard work that no one sees so he can perform when everyone’s watching.
The Gamer does not waste a game, an at-bat, or even a single swing. He runs out everything, grateful to be on the field and already looking forward to his next at-bat when he’s going to wait for his pitch and hit the ball hard.
The Gamer is a great teammate. He congratulates his teammates, but also competes with them.
The Gamer gets dirty.
The Gamer doesn’t give any, but he doesn’t take any either.
The Gamer is trained, not born.
The Little Guy Must Have a Big Trophy Case
And on this last point, I want to expand. Dustin Pedroia, at 5’8”, 170 lbs., is too small to play this game. So how does he rack up Rookie of the Year (paired nicely with a World Series ring) in 2007 followed by being an All Star, Gold Glove winner, and league MVP in 2008?
I think the rest of his trophy case tells the story. Every year since 2010, Dustin Pedroia has been nominated for the Heart & Hustle Award, winning it in 2013. He is a great example of what a Gamer looks like on the field.
Off the field, I definitely find myself falling short from time to time, but I believe that trying to get better is at the heart of being a true Gamer. If you resist the urge to get complacent, you’ll be a better baseball player for it tomorrow.