Chasing the dream: A long, rough road - NBC Sports

Chasing the dream: A long, rough road
A lucky few players are able to reach the major leagues, butthe vast majority cope with life in the minors, but oh the stories
Special to NBCSports.com
As long as the dream remains, there is hope, and for those fortunate enough to have hope, the pull of the major leagues is a strong one.
March 10, 2011, 9:03 am

Yeah, I was in the show. I was in the show for 21 days once - the 21 greatest days of my life.
- Kevin Costner as Crash Davis in the 1988 movie "Bull Durham"

It's a kid's dream.

One that is born the first time you wrap your fingers around a bat or slip a worn leather glove on your hand.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I want to be a ballplayer.

For most of us, the dream is fanciful and fleeting, eventually dashed by slow reflexes, lumbering feet and weak arms. But for a select few the dream has a basis in reality. For them, the fast-twitch muscles already in place are honed through hours of practice, and the drive and dedication are there to supplement the natural abilities.

But even for the gifted, the road is rarely easy. How could it be in a game where failure and doubt lurk around every corner, where succeeding as a hitter only 30 percent of the time makes you a hero?

No, chasing your dream is never easy, especially when that dream is to become a professional ballplayer. It's a long road to the major leagues, and there are plenty of potholes along the way. Stamina is tested by long bus rides and cheap motels. Skills are tested by opponents just as hungry as you are. And resolve can be tested at any moment by a streak of bad luck or a lapse in concentration.

But as long as the dream remains, there is hope, and for those fortunate enough to have hope, the pull of the major leagues is a strong one.

We talked to seven men about chasing their dreams. Some worked hard to become major league regulars, some are still trying to get there, and some remain caught in between. But while each man has faced unique challenges in chasing his dream, they all had one thing in common: it's the journey that matters most ...

Bob Harkins is the baseball editor at NBCSports.com and a writer for HardballTalk.com. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/Bharks



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