Emerging Writers. One Big Leaguer’s Story
On Baseball, Growing Up and Making a Difference
One Big Leaguer’s Story. Episode 6
Recounting to Nate the next day, Try explained the day his sister died was the day he learned what being the oldest meant and what responsibility it held and he would never take it lightly again. “I grew up that day, if you can understand it, the weight of the family was on my shoulders and it has never come off. Not to say it’s bad necessarily, it just is.”
“That’s why you were such a good mentor to those young players, Try. The bad turned into something good.”
“Never looked at it that way, Nate. Guess that’s why you are writing my story, and I’m not writing it!”
“Tell me about that rancher fella, the one with all the talent.”
“Alright Nate, let’s see now. Well, as I remember it, we were shuttling back and forth among three different teams at the AA level, Columbus, Rochester and Sacramento. One of my teammates, Luke Nathan, had grown up on a ranch in South Dakota. Winters were tough he would say, but it was the life he knew. Great talent, he played baseball in the summer and worked on his father’s ranch. The scouts found him and the Cardinals signed him. His father encouraged him to play professionally and get out of ranching while he had the chance. Luke was so excited to be a professional baseball player that he dropped his old life just like that.
“He did well professionally, even at such a young age. He had a scrappiness like I had and all the talent of my younger brothers put together. Very good combination. The coaches loved him. Very trainable, executed well, perfect almost all around.
“Came to me one day. Try, he said, I’m thinking of leaving baseball. I looked at him in disbelief. Why, I asked him, you are such a good player and you have such fun out there.
“Ranching is where my heart is and where I’m thinking my life needs to be. My father hates ranching and wants what’s best for me, which he is certain is not ranching. So I said to Luke, you do realize you would be putting aside the opportunity to have an exceptional career with the Cardinals, right? Not too long from now, you could be up with the big club to stay, I told him.
“I know, he said. It’s what the coaches want to see, what my father wants for me, what I am capable of doing, but my heart would never truly be in it.
“I thought about it a bit and then I told Luke, you have to follow your heart. It won’t steer you wrong. Immediately it looked like a ton of bricks had been lifted from him and he had a smile a mile wide on his face.
“Two days later he was headed back to South Dakota to put the Cardinals signing bonus money that he had gotten toward a ranch of his own. He had saved the money, fairly sure of just what he would do with it one day. He made it a point to thank me for the advice. Told me how much I had helped him. Everyone else saw things through their own eyes and didn’t understand, he explained, but I had seemed to him so wise beyond my years, I think that was how he put it.
“I was going to tell him about Ruthie and what I had learned, but instead I told him, might see you out there one day, should I try ranching. He laughed, said if the spread next to his opened up, he’d let me know. Still hasn’t, but every once in a while he gives me a call, thanking me again for the advice. And I tell him again, glad I could help.”
Read Earlier Episodes of One Big Leaguer’s Story
One Big Leaguer’s Story. Episode 6 (This one)