Shadow or no shadow on Groundhog Day, spring officially begins when pitchers and catchers report for MLB spring training. It’s that time of year! Time to watch Fever Pitch for the millionth time, listen to John Fogerty’s hit “Centerfield” during batting practice, enjoy hotdogs, beer, sunshine, warm weather and great seats.
Spring training is a fresh start to the new season and it’s a great chance to see no-name players for the first time. Just as many organizations have on-boarding and training programs, baseball has the farm system and these rookies have the opportunity to show off their hard work and skill in spring training.
AS A ROOKIE, HOW DO YOU MAKE THE TEAM?
One of my favorite quotes in Fever Pitch, “You can have a lucky day, sure, but you can’t have a lucky career. It’s a little like math. It’s orderly. Win or lose, it’s fair. It all adds up…” If you’re in a rookie position at a new job, you’re both excited and intimidated. You not only need to prove that you’re skilled enough to join the “bigs” but you also need the buy-in of management, investors and fans.
I’m a huge Braves fan – so much that it actually influenced my college decision, but that’s a story for another time. Living in Jacksonville, Florida, I frequently make the two-hour drive to the Braves’ spring training at Wide World of Sports, of course throwing in a visit to Disney World each time. Keeping score in spring training is quite a task; there are many players you’ve never heard of, last names with more letters than the alphabet and numbers up in the 80s and 90s! It can actually get pretty frustrating with all of the player changes in the early spring training games. But nothing is more exciting then seeing player number 99 on March 1st and then watching him progress and stay on the roster throughout spring training, only to get called up for Opening Day. As a new employee or aspiring leader, this is your goal. You want your jersey number to go from 99 down to 22.
LOOK AT ME, I COULD BE CENTERFIELD.
Some actions you can take to ensure you are hitting over .300 and getting noticed:
- Learn everything you can about your organization – the more knowledge you have, the more you’re able to contribute as part of the team. Additionally, make meaningful connections with your teammates and colleagues. Connections will take you far in your current position as well and future opportunities.
- Get out there! Ball players that lead minor league teams as captains or volunteer in the community get noticed more and obtain greater fan support. You should always be looking for volunteer opportunities and work projects to take part in.
- Dress the part and show up on time – this is just a good rule to live by, no matter where you are in your career.
- Speak up for yourself. If you disagree with a call (he was totally out at second) or a review isn’t what you expected, speak up (but don’t yell – you may get ejected).
- Extra training is always important. This may mean training courses offered by your company or asking your boss for training for specific certifications. The extra effort not only further educates you, but it’s also a great reflection of the type of person you are, always curious in growing.
Congrats! You made the roster, or got that promotion or next step. With all of the excitement of opening day and the new team, you may get carried away, which is perfectly fine. But try and keep a good head on your shoulders at the same time – be humble and remember you can’t stop the hard work now. Continue setting goals for yourself, learning and working with others.
You got cut and it’s back to AA. Do a gut check, think logically about your efforts and what happened. It may just not be time yet for that promotion, or you may be under-valued in the organization, maybe they have a slew of catchers lined up in their system. It’s easy to get discouraged, but it’s important to continue trying your hardest and practicing all of the points listed above. You can speak to your boss about it, re-evaluate, and then keep in mind the connections you’ve made – maybe look at taking your hard work to a new organization. Very few of the greats played for one team (Chipper Jones is an exception), most of them have moved around but never gave up in the process.
Most importantly though, have fun with what you do. Make every moment of your “spring training” work to your advantage. Always strive to be the best at what you do and up your batting average, and most of the time you will get recognized. And when you do and you first step up to the plate, what would your “at bat” song be?