Look, if you had one shot, one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted
Would you capture it or just let it slip?
I was a small-town kid from Anola, Manitoba, Canada who went into the belly of the United States to play baseball. In 1994, I was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 26th round of the Major League Baseball Junior Amateur Draft. I had been playing in Vancouver in the National Baseball Institute. After conversations about entering the draft, I thought I would get drafted in the top five rounds. I was in talks with Marlins and the Blue Jays, which had me confident. I also read some local papers saying that I was one of the top guys from Canada. They speculated that I would be drafted in the first couple of rounds.
I was in Vancouver on draft day, waiting for that life-changing phone call. Day one went by, and no call. I was so frustrated and upset, because in my mind before that day happened, I had already spent the signing money. Back in the day, if you got drafted in the first five rounds, you got $200,000 to $2,000,000. The idea of that had me so excited. I didn’t think I would be in the top 5 but I thought I would be in the top 10 at least, I was thinking, “I’ll at least get $100,000 US$ to spend.”
I planned to buy my dad a new combine and then buy myself a car. But, it didn’t work out that way.
The next day, I received a phone call from Howard Norsetter the international scout for the Minnesota Twins. He said, “Congratulations, you were drafted in the 26th round by the Minnesota Twins.”
I just sat there.
He went on to say, “I understand you are probably disappointed by this but are you willing to sign?”
I said, “Sure. Let’s talk about it. I am going back home to Manitoba in a couple of days.”
Howie told me he would meet at my parent’s house to discuss it further.
The next day, I flew back to Anola, Manitoba, and, just like he said, Howie met me there. We sat down, and we talked. He told me more about the offer and what is included. Then, he offered me the money. I think it was $5,000 U.S.
I was a little bit disappointed when he told me. But still, It was a lot of money for a Canadian college kid that had a student loan. I had my mind set on the money offered to an earlier round draft pick.
My first reaction was, “No.” I told him I wanted to play for team Canada, and that I would enter the draft again, at another time. We went back and forth with the negotiation a little. But, ultimately, Howie said to me, “Look, you might not get another chance like this. This is an opportunity. You got drafted by a major league baseball team. You have an opportunity to start towards a path of major league baseball.”
I told him I had to think about it.
The next day, I signed with the Minnesota Twins. I think I got $7500 US$ which ended up getting $13,300 Canadian after you converted it from U.S. dollars. I took that money and put it in the bank.
I flew back to Vancouver while my work visa was getting approved. So, I played baseball for a local team and worked. There is not much work for a guy looking to leave in a couple of weeks. Gary Blouin, the pitching coach from my college team had a job opening. It was digging a hole for a pool with a SHOVEL! They couldn’t get a backhoe into a spot where a hotel wanted their pool, so they were looking muscle. I needed money, so I took the job. I got up at 5:30 am and stood on the side of the road waiting for Gary to pick me up. I thought that there would be quite a few of us. It was JUST ME! Gary dropped me off and showed me where to dig, and I started digging. 10 hours later Gary would come and pick me up. I did this for a couple of weeks until my work visa came through. Man, I was begging for my work visa to come through quickly. This was hard work! It wasn’t fun, but I needed the $15/hour.
Eventually, my paperwork went through, so I traveled from Vancouver to Minneapolis, Minneapolis to Atlanta, and Atlanta to Elizabethton, Tennessee. Elizabethton is where I spent the next 10 weeks, playing baseball day in and day out. I didn’t know anyone in Tennessee, and coming from Canada, all I knew is that they talked funny.
My first experience in professional baseball was a GRIND. Playing baseball every day! Facing guys throwing 90 MPH every day! I just couldn’t get into a rhythm. I wanted to work out, but I didn’t know when. I wanted to do cardio, but I didn’t know when. My body was tired from playing every day in the Tennessee heat. I was a tough adjustment to professional baseball. Every day I would get to the ballpark about 1:30 p.m for a 7 pm game. I would do some early defensive work then go out for early hitting around 3 p.m. We would go inside and grab a quick snack and go back outside for team batting practice. After BP we would come in for 45 minutes and eat while the opposing team took BP. We would go back out to prepare of the pre-game infield/outfield, take IO and then go back in the clubhouse to change and get ready for the 7 p.m. Professional baseball. Remember THIS IS EVERYDAY!
I made it to the big leagues five years later. During that time, I played for the Elizabethton Twins, Tennessee, Fort Wayne Wizards, Indiana, Fort Myers, Florida, New Britain Rock Cats, Connecticut, and Salt Lake City Buzz, Utah, and finally to Minnesota where I played third base for six years.
All of that was possible because I decided to seize the opportunity and take a chance.
What I learned as an athlete
When Howie said I might not get another chance to play in the major leagues, that was the push I needed. Yea, I was a late round draft pick, but at least I got a chance. People talk about being lucky, I believe that you have to put yourself in a position to be lucky. When you are in that position then you need to execute on that luck. Before you take your luck you need to make your luck
How I apply it to business
I almost squandered my opportunity to play major league baseball but I got lucky because I put myself into a position to be “lucky” and I took my luck. In business, I got “lucky” once with my Planet Fitness, and it took 60 hours a week and a lot of learning to get “lucky”. Here is a story I wrote about that experience. https://www.theplayerstribune.com/en-us/articles/corey-koskie-my-second-retirement
How I apply the lesson to youth sports
It ’s hard to be good. The only way I know how to be good is to work hard and practice. That way, you will make your luck. There is seems to be a disconnect between wanting and doing what it takes to get what you want. As a youth athlete or an adult are you willing to do what it takes to get what you want? Do you want to be “lucky”? Are you willing to put the time in to “make your luck”? Are you going to “take your luck”?
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