Some time during preschool, nearly every boy knows what he wants to be when he grows up. A fireman. A garbage man. A T-Rex. Some kids even want to play shortstop for the Red Sox. And that kid was me. Growing up in a baseball-crazy family, I was eager to begin tee-ball before I could even read the Charlotte Observer’s breakdown of my Red Sox’ extra inning win over the Orioles. Nothing excited me more than sprinting out of my mom’s Honda Odyssey down to the ball field and playing with my best friend Daniel. But then Daniel started to make All-Star teams year after year, while my bland bat relegated me to reading the Observer.
By middle school, I knew playing baseball wasn’t my future. As much as I loved America’s pastime, I wouldn’t be the next Hank Greenberg, let alone the next Mike Lieberthal. Yet despite my lack of power at the plate, I remained passionate about the sport, whether reading the Observer’s sports section or devouring that week’s Sports Illustrated. Then, one day during seventh grade lunch, I decided to take my dedication to sports to a new level by starting to write a preview for the upcoming baseball season. It wasn’t much, just fourteen pages of my own analysis that ended in triumph as I correctly predicted my hometown Red Sox to win it all. That was my first taste of sports writing—and I absolutely loved it.
When the 2008 season rolled around, I set off to write a bigger, better preview, and it grew to twenty-one pages. My Red Sox didn’t win back-to-back titles as I had clumsily predicted, but I was nonetheless undeterred. My parents knew of my love for baseball and my budding interest in writing, so they bought me Bill Simmons’ book Now I Can Die in Peace. It instantly became my favorite book. And then it hit me. I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up: a sports journalist.
With my heart set on a future in the media, I worked even harder to perfect my craft. My preview for the 2009 season grew to thirty-nine pages of in-depth analysis and predictions. I started to blog almost every day during the baseball season, sharing my thoughts with anyone who stopped by to read. Yet despite my hard work in preceding previews, I knew I could do more; I needed to set myself ahead of the pack.
Between Algebra II studies and AP World readings, I worked around the clock until my budding fourteen-page project blossomed into a sixty-nine-page baseball dissertation. I searched for innovative applications of statistics in order to break the mold of accepted sports analysis. For the first time in my life, the start of the baseball season became bittersweet because it meant that I finished writing 3500 words on the woeful prospects of the Kansas City Royals and Pittsburgh Pirates escaping the basement of their divisions.
The more writing I do, the more I realize why I want to be a sports journalist. I don’t do it for the recognition—even though I was featured last spring in the Observer. It’s not about the money, not about the glory. I do it because I eat, breath, and sleep sports. More than anything else, I do it because this is my passion. I may not throw a stellar knuckleball like Daniel, but I’ll give the most unique spin on any sports story.
*Editor’s note: Daniel’s real name is Ben, but I changed the name to avoid confusion.*