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I really enjoy the general discussion here at HS Baseball Web. Although my son is still enjoying the heart of his youth baseball experience (11U in PONY Broncos), we are fans of our local High Schools, are neighborly with many local baseball families, and follow closely the suite of local prospects, one of whom reportedly drew more than a dozen MLB scouts to a game we attended last Wednesday night (I can't confirm that as I only recognized five scouts that I had seen before at other functions). And the experiences of the community on this website have really shed light on the larger picture of how young ball players transition from talented youngster, to prospect, to college student/athlete, or to pro. This stuff is interesting to me whether or not baseball is in my own son's long term future.

Knowing that most posters here have boys that are succeeding at least at the High School level, have gone on the college baseball, or even pro ball, I am interested in hearing from you on when it was that you first realized your little guy was really something special. Was it after he made his first rec league (LL, PONY, Ripken) All-Star team? When he started for the first time on a select or travel side? Maybe he was a late bloomer and it wasn't until mid-HS when he first scored a spot in the Varsity Team and never looked back? And what was it that made you stop and think, "wow, he's really got 'IT'!"

Thanks for any interest and responses.
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Son #1 - I knew early on that he wasn't going to play baseball beyond high school. I was correct.

Son #2 - I knew he was going to be an outstanding player when he was very young. He ended up playing professional baseball for a short period of time.

Son #3 - I knew he would play in high school, but thought, even while in high school, that college was a big longshot. He ended up playing professional baseball for 11-12 years and made it to the Major Leagues.

Lesson learned - You just never know how things will turn out. However, they are all very special! Not once did I ever think about any of them having "IT".
This question comes up from time to time.

IMO, it's not when WE realize it, but when THE player realizes it, for mine it was in HS, we just went with the flow and didn't pay much attention until it all really meant something (which was securing a college scholarship), then draft potential.

PG is right, all players are special, and you never really know how things will turn out, so just sit back and enjoy your player for the person he is and not the player he is.
Last edited by TPM
Originally posted by PGStaff:
Lesson learned - You just never know how things will turn out. However, they are all very special! Not once did I ever think about any of them having "IT".

Great point.

I just sent this in a pm to my dear friend lafmom the other day but I believe it applies here:

I'll never forget how my baseball playing son's (Tyler) baseball began. My wife went to sign Beau (my oldest son) up at the fire hall and of course had to tug Tyler along with her as he was a few months shy of his 4th birthday. When Tyler found out he was not getting signed up too he sobbed so badly that everyone at the fire hall felt sorry for him and they made an exception for him and put him on Beau's team. That started a pattern where any coach that picked Beau was automatically getting Tyler Big Grin That first year, Tyler would draw pictures in the sand when he played in the field. He could always hit. He would hit but stand there at home admiring what he had done. All the parents would be screaming, run Tyler, run Tyler... all the while running down the line pointing where to go. After a few years, coaches figured out that they were getting a huge bonus when they picked Beau for their team because they automatically got Tyler. They would play Tyler at short and Beau at second and hardly ever lose a game as both of them pitched as well. At 10 years old, Tyler was the best player in Beau's 12 year old league.

I think back how much fun and innocent all that was. Travel ball kind of corrupted the innocence of things and took some of the fun out of it for me but Tyler never let it rob him of his joy which he carries with him until this day. I am convinced that the whole key to the puzzle is joy. I think Tyler's joy goes back to that day in the fire hall when they made an exception for him.
After I accepted the fact he was going to be right handed and not one of the chosen ones Wink , I think that I knew he had something special when he started playing up in age and was not mentally intimidated while he was physically outmatched at times. IMO many times kids hold themselves back because they are insecure about their abilities or potential. I will also say that while I thought there was something special about his ability and attitude, I always knew that "baseball special" included a lot of luck and never did I "bank" that he would make to the level he has.
Last edited by rz1
Picture a plastic ball and a plastic bat: When I underhanded his first pitch from about 10 feet and he smacked a liner back and broke my glasses I went inside the house and told my wife "That kid can hit" ---- I knew then (he was about two) he COULD play baseball. However I NEVER knew from year to year if he WOULD continue to play baseball. He played for 22 more years.
I can relate! BTW, our players first word was ball too, except pronounced "bawl".

I asked hubby this question he said the day son was the only position ready player in the field, in tball. Big Grin

Seriously you never know, I have seen a few kids that had the "it" and done playing as teens.
Each post of mine concludes you don't have to be a great player to be in MLB, you have to be a good one every day.
That statement would perfectly reflect our son as a player. While he was always "special" to us, no one in little league, senior league or high school ever would say he had "IT."
That he was a good player every day became apparent when he went to the NECBL, became a two time All Star, and was the 2nd leading hitter in the league. It became equally apparent when he went from riding the bench at the beginning of the 2005 Milb season to playing in the All Star game some 3 months later.
Now that he is coaching, I think he is showing he may have "IT." He is now working with his 3rd program, this time with a very, very talented DI coach. Each of the 3 head coaches has commented he has "it." The players he has/is coaching comment he has "it."
The way the teams have performed suggest he can really coach. Long way to go in his pursuit, but maybe he really does have "IT" as a coach when, as a player, he was "just" a good one everyday, and very happy for all that brought him in baseball.
First at bat of LL majors. 4thGen was the youngest player in the league. He lead off the game and year for us. As a switch hitter he was up lefthanded and the other coach moved his outfielders toward right. 4th roped the first pitch he saw over the third basement's head and was hitting the thrid base bag about the time the left fielder got to the ball. I was going crazy in the box at third but he came into the dugout with the "that's pretty much how I expect it to go every time" attitude.
I really don't know yet if my older son has "IT" or not. I know of some people (some knowledgeable and some not quite so knowledgeable parents and some coaches) who have told me for years (tball on) that he does and they may be correct...I think he was 9 when someone said they were looking forward to watching him on TV some day...I also know of a few kids that some of those same folks said had "IT" and, still in HS, they aren't playing anymore...I know the 90' diamond took some of them off the list as did HS ball and there are some kids I was sure would play in college that aren't...

There have been times I thought my younger son, who always seemed to jump into my older son's practices and pretty easily hold his own, might have more talent...He just didn't have that love for the game that my older one does...He's now playing another sport that he really seems to be enjoying...

I'll wait to see where their paths lead and enjoy the ride with both my sons...
When did I know? It's hard to pinpoint a particular moment. I suspected it very early, but knew it was his dream to pursue, not mine.

That didn't stop me from kidding about it, though. When infidel_son was 4, the company I worked for was beginning to change their retirement plans. They brought in a contractor for a few days and he was to educate us about IRAs, 401Ks, investing and similar stuff. The problem was that the classes were right after lunch which seemed more like naptime. Being bored silly and fighting drowsiness, I thumbed through some pictures I had with me that were of the kid's T-Ball and some others I took watching Spring Training. I found one of infidel_son hitting the ball off the tee that looked really good. I noticed that there was one of Rickey Henderson that was almost exactly the same; hands, head, feet, position of the bat. I took those photos to the instructor and announced, "Here is my retirement plan."
At 3yo one of my DDs came in to the room at Christmas with someone else's basketball and was dribbling it. At 5yo, she turns a triple play in her first T-Ball game. (I travelled a lot back then, she didn't learn it from me.) She turned out to be a pretty good athlete.

Her older sister was a cheerleader (I know, but hey it's better than s****er), then became a pretty good fastpitch player in HS.

But, I think you never know about any kid until they hit high school. Most of the 8U,10U, 12U stars fall by the wayside. The kids that couldn't play at all can be great pitchers. The great 10U home run hitters may not hit a lick in HS. Puberty changes everything.
Last edited by SultanofSwat
When GUN was 7 years old, he played up. That same year he turned his first unassisted triple play. When he was 10, he moved to 54/80’s and played up. When he was a high school freshman, he started every varsity game; he’s now a 3 year letterman and a captain on the team. That same freshman summer, he started playing with his current summer travel team with a bunch of rising JR’s and continued to have success. Last summer he played on a state championship team and played in a World Series event.

I say all that to say this… He’s very special because he’s my son. Will he be a special baseball player in college? Who knows, but he’ll always be my son. I will add this too, alot of players that have great sucess at every level, have one thing in common. Baseball is part of their identity, it is as much a part of who they are as it is what they do.

Last edited by GunEmDown10
When at age 8 or so, playing a completely imaginary game in our basement,with pillows on the floor as bases, running around, "diving catches", etc., he came up disgusted and sweaty. I asked what was wrong and he said "I gave up a walkoff homer in the 9th". I figured if he was that intent in imaginary games, he'd be pretty good at the real thing.
Originally posted by GunEmDown10:

I will add this too, alot of players that have great sucess t every level, have one thing in common. Baseball is part of their identity, it is as much a part of who they are as it is what they do.


Very true statement there. The kids that do well in High School and College are the ones that have a love for the game. It takes a lot of dedication to become proficient in anything and just being a natural athlete will only get you so far.

It is like anything. The ones that really excell at something do what they do because they love it. Any kid can play baseball but very few really strive to become baseball players. Passion is the key. There is no problem with a kid enjoying playing the game but not living for it. Not all kids should but I thank God that my son does have that passion. I hope he doesn't lose it.
I'm almost embarrassed to add my 2 cents to this list of Who's Who of the HSBBW community. It's kind of like hanging a paint-by-numbers picture up next to the Rembrandt's, Monet's & Van Gogh's ... but here it goes ...

When I pull myself back from being the too involved Dad, I guess the first question is to ask what "IT" is?

If "IT" is the physical talent and skills to play at the highest levels of the game, then that is still to be determined for SP_son. If "IT" is loving the game, having a passion and desire to play, and having the desire to go out and work hard to prepare and compete at the highest level he can ... then he has "IT", and has had "IT", at some level, since he was about 4.

Today, my guy is a young HS junior, who is also a late bloomer physically. Amongst his friends and teammates he counts guys who by all accounts (including PG's watch lists, and MLB scouts) have "IT". He is not there yet, but he has a few Coaches at top D1 programs telling him to keep doing what he is doing, and they will be watching closely.

In youth leagues, he was never "the guy" when they would pick teams ... but always seemed to become "the guy" who was the ultimate team guy, and came through for his team in the pinch.

He is a great example of what is illustrated in the book Outliers. He was a LL All-Star, in large part because he wanted to go to the field every day to practice hitting, fielding, and pitching. He just got to be a better player than many of the older, better athletes.

When the league age change kicked in in 2006, he was a repeat League Age 12 ... but he wanted to move up with his teammates. The only way to do this was to play full time travel ball for a team outside of the community, with kids he did not know. He chose that route. He got more practice and play against better competition than many of his peers, and he became better.

That led to doors opening to compete in some National tournaments, and his being invited to play for a National Travel Team. He chose to take that step up, and we supported him. Over the last few years he has played with and against kids who are early commits to top D1 programs, and a few who will almost certainly be drafted coming out of HS ... and he has played and produced on a par with these guys, and earning the reputation of being a "gamer" who just finds a way to help his team win.

These experiences have given him the confidence to work to become a top HS player, and to strive to become a prospect for some top D1 programs ... and holding onto the dream of going still further. Does he have "IT" to get there? Time will tell.

I believe Infielddad's tag line is correct that you don't have to be great to make it, you just have to be very good every day. I think that holds true in most things in life, and that is one of the biggest life lessons SP_son is taking away from his baseball experiences.

We are encouraging SP_son to chase his dream with all he has, for as long as teams will let him put on a uniform. He is learning that loving the game, and having some ability are not enough to reach the upper echelons of the game ... you have to be willing to do some very hard work to chase the dream. That is the "IT" that will prove most valuable in his life.

Eventually, the day will come where the glove goes into the closet, except for when he is playing catch with SP_grandson ... I'm hoping that what he takes out of his baseball experiences is learning to chase his dreams -- whatever they are -- with all he has, even when it hurts. Then I'll know that he has "IT".
Last edited by southpaw_dad
Not much to add to a very good post by Southpawdad! To me, "It" was the definition of skills and work needed to get to the next level. He began at age 8 (real late in these parts, although that's when we all began play in my day!) and I knew the first time he picked up a real baseball bat and faced a pitching machine throwing 35mph for tryouts, that he had really good hand-eye skills.

From that point it become is he skilled enough to make a good Travel team. That carried us through until the next "It" marker for H.S. and maybe college. I knew at 14 that he'd be good in high school and by 15 he could play somewhere in college. That's all materialized. The next "It" is can he play Pro? My thoughts now is yes he has the skills, particularly bat speed. He needs to add 30lbs to his 185lb frame (IMO, College Staff says they will put 20lbs on him 1st year!) and continue to improve all his skills. He hasn't yet peaked (he's a late birthday/bloomer) so I think it's very doable.

Will I ever see him on the tube in an MLB game, doubtful but I'd never bet against him!!!!
Last edited by Prime9
What level are you defining as accomplishment? High school? College? Pros?

There are lots of little IT's along the way. Some parents mistake IT at an early age for their kid being bigger and stronger before other kids.

My daughter was a girly, girl until she agreed to play rec softball at age seven. She grew up to play college softball. Maybe IT was when I saw in a middle school softball game when she made a goalie save and took a rocket to the ribs on a horrible outfield to prevent a ball from getting past her in a 0-0 game. Maybe IT was after losing the middle school league championship the next year and sitting in the car with a killer look stating, "Losing $ucks." IT was more likely to be when she grew to 5'10" freshman year of high school when size and strength matched skills. She was a physical late bloomer.

With my son maybe IT was when his favorite toy was his Little Tikes tee ball set from the time he could stand up and swing. He dragged it out to the yard every day. Maybe IT was when others humored me in his preteen years when parents would tell me I didn't need to save for college because of sports (very humorous). Maybe IT was in LL when he shook off a horrible day with, "I don't suck. I just didn't play well today." Maybe IT was when he was fifteen and played in an 18/19U tournament with a bunch of players headed for college ball and held his own.

But here's the moment I was sure. Both of them were/are multisport athletes in high school. They had/have the opportunity to play two college sports. The definite IT moment as when they called themselves softball/baseball players first.

I figured my kids would get as far as high school sports if they wanted it. Both parents played college sports. The question was would they want to be college athletes? Would they do the work. Would they understand the sacrifices to get there (social life, work ethic away from the team)? They both wanted/want it badly. My kids wouldn't/won't drink soda in high school because they think it's bad for their bodies relative to being an athlete. That's discipline. The discipline to want IT is IT.
Last edited by RJM
It is very interesting to see these answers - and how different people approach it in different ways.

Thats the best part IMO.

For me - as a parent - I never really thought about whether either son had "IT". All I thought about was the next game - and when it was over - I hoped they would get a chance to play one more game.

I still feel that way deep down.

I think part of it is because I grew up with this game - and I know how fickle it can be. I think another part of it - as a parent - is because I watched my eldest play - and he was never considered to be a special player.

It seemed like no matter what he did - some "expert" would helicopter in and say he wasnt anything more than a mediocre player. A decent player.

As time went on - he kept doing real good - and the media and the "experts" kept saying the same thing. In fact - in many cases - he wasnt even mentioned at all. Personally - I think that is the best way to go - stay anonymous - play well and help your team win games.

No "IT" stuff - just baseball.

And when the season is over - all the blowhard "experts" will be gone - they will be on to their next "five-tool - high ceiling nonsense" - and they will leave you alone.

No "IT" stuff - just the player - with sincere hopes of another game and maybe even another season.

Simplistic approach - probably - and I know I rambled a bit here - but to me - it isnt about predictions - or media hype - its just about performing and winning - and hopefully getting the opportunity to keep playing tomorrow.
When son (2010) was not quite four he became frustrated that Seattle Mariners games started at 7PM and bedtime was 8PM. So we got him a radio and he fell asleep listening to Dave Niehaus call the game.

He still watches a VHS we have of the '95 Mariners and their magical season including the brilliant playoff series win over the Yankees. It still brings tears to MY eyes when Edgar Martinez doubles off Black Jack McDowell and Junior scores all the way from first to win game 5 and the series.

By the time he was four he knew all the Mariner players and their numbers. By the time he was five he knew most of the rest of the American League.

Every day when I came home he begged to play catch. He was a natural thrower and catcher. Never stepped with the wrong foot. Always used a glove comfortably, effortlessly.

When he became old enough to play at age six there was no dandelion picking. He was FOCUSED. Always dead serious.

Physically he has enough skill to compete but it was his FOCUS that stood him apart. His deeper understanding and instincts for the game. Son has always had "IT".

Next fall he heads to NAIA Jamestown (ND) to try to play at the next level. Whether he has "IT" at that level remains to be seen. Every kid he will be competing has always had "IT" too.

That's the funny thing about "IT". Every time you move up a level you never know if "IT" will make the move with you.
I know exactly when I knew my son had IT ! I will get to that in a second.

The journey began with my son when at 4 years old we went to the local park for sign ups with the intent of getting his older brother playing. See Dad after seeing he had boys could not wait till they could both play. We had the plastic t-ball set, plastic gloves and safety balls. They were the first gifts I bought for each of my sons when they were born. They were going to play baseball whether they wanted to or not because it was in my blood. We played catch in the back yard often and both boys even though awkward they enjoyed playing catch with daddy. When we signed my eldest up the person taking the registration asked if my youngest wanted to play as well. I had prepared him for the fact that he was not able to play yet because he was too young. We told the lady that we didn't expect him to be old enough and that thanks but no thanks. With the encouragement of my eldest son and the tears in my youngest we changed our minds so began the journey.

Between picking daisy's watching the planes fly over head and making them selves dizzy spinning in circles they each has the advantage of being able to catch and throw better than most because of the backyard games we had been playing. Our league started off as coach pitch 4-6 and both boys could also hit. Who remembers, running backwards around the bases? crying because they didn't want to play that day? calling time out for pee breaks? maybe the infamous quadruple play? Who here would not love to go back to those days? Anyway they both played all-stars those three years. Then moved to kid pitch for 7-8 year olds. Here my older son just loved the social aspect of playing ball and his last year was at 8. He played some other sports till about 13.

My youngest however continued to excel sometimes seemingly without effort. Could pitch without walking 8 in a row and could still hit. Many times though he initiated the dad lets go practice please requests. You could see he liked playing but.... On to the next level he continued to get better, continued to get selected for Travel/Tournament teams. Did I see it yet? Nope but I did see a special player that if he worked a little harder he could continue to play as long as he wanted. Moving up I remember the anxiety he and I felt his freshman year trying out for the school team. It was a big school over 2400 students and I had been prepping him to be ready if he didn't make the team he would be ok. I expected him to make JV (No freshman team) but wanted him to be ready if he didn't. At each cut day I saw the smile he came home with but cautioned him to not be to excited. So was the smile he showed me the IT factor? Nope. He Made the varsity team and started every game either as a pitcher or OF.

We/He played for a fall wood bat team all thru HS after our summer schedule for a former Pro player, who had several former Pro buddies across the country. They met up Just before Christmas in Bradenton Fla on the Spring MLB fields for 4 days or round robin play. Because he was invited to play on this team and told by that coach that he felt he could play pro ball because of his bat. Was that the it moment? Nope. Was seeing 5-15 scouts college and pro come to his senior HS games the IT moment? Nope Was getting drafted out of HS in 2002 as a LHP the IT moment? Nope. Was going off to college and becoming a starting pitcher as a freshman the IT moment? Nope.

He had the tools, the drive, the will to play baseball maybe to the highest level but left college for personal reasons in his sophomore year in 2003

My IT moment came not for any accomplishment he had had, Not for any trophy or plaque hanging up or on the shelf, Not for any team he made.Not for any home run or shutout. I knew he could play, knew he wanted to compete, knew others saw more than I when it came to talent(IT).

My IT moment for me came when at 25 years old after being out of school and not picking up a baseball in 6 years he called his mother and I, and asked if he could come home and live with us. That he wanted to return to school and finish his education with hopes of being able to play ball again.

P.S.Great GPA this time around and a conference starter. But more importantly he has become a great young man ! He has IT !
Last edited by Former Member
I had the wonderfull opportunity to play at UNLV and signed in the 8th round in 1981 with the st louis cardinals. I always wanted my boys to follow my footsteps but one never knows their heart and desire when they first lace up the spikes and grab the leather. My "it" with my son kyle was watching him pitch as a freshman 3 years ago. he was 5ft 1 inch and 98 lbs. he was throwing mid 70's but had such a quick arm you just knew when the size came the velocity would follow. Today he is 6ft 1in and will play for texas state in the fall. He has been gunned at 92 on the stalker this season and was named to the 2nd team all region rawlings team. I remember telling him that he would one day be a 90mph kid if he kept at it..and here he is ready to move on to D1 baseball. For those who are late bloomers never give up, follow your passion and work hard. Dreams do come true....
I thought I knew for the last three years but was never quite sure if my bias was getting in the way of my evaluation. Until yesterday. My 2012 catcher was called up to play varsity for the past week. Pretty solid week defensively and looked pretty good at the plate against a good pitcher from one of top teams in the area and state. He even made the local paper for a key hit in a win in another game. Result - convinced he will do well in high school ball over the next 2 1/2 seasons and will have the opportunity to play college ball at some level if he so desires. Very good week!
I have always had that instinct that my oldest may have "IT". Always the biggest kid and knew he was able to hit the ball and DOES. Playing against some of the best competition in the midwest and winning as well is "part of it".
Making all tournament teams. Winning the HR Derby, MVP of tourney, highest BA, All tourney and the championship trophy all at the U11 CABA WS gave me even more insight!

Seeing him recover from 2, count them....2 labrum surgeries (non pitcher thank goodness!)
His will and want to succeed was unimagineable!

And to cap things off, after seeing him virtually take 2 seasons off and recently still got selected to play varsity as a Soph. and then to go on and in only his 2nd scrimmage of the year go 2 for 4 with a Double and a Grand Slam.

He has "IT", I am pretty sure.

I just hope he keeps the "love of the game"
Originally posted by 08Dad:
When my son was 2 months old and sitting in his high chair, he threw his pacifier at me. When I noticed that he used his left hand and that the pacifier had good run and even a little sink - I knew that he had it...

When Bum, Jr. was about 12 he struck me out 3 times in a row. It hurt my feelings! He's pretty much done that at every level now.
Last edited by Bum
Similiar deal as Fungo. Son was two years old I go to pick him up at day care. One of the teachers says you've got to see something. He takes me out back and Aaron is throwing a plastic ball in the air and hitting it.

OK once is good but ten times in a row he's hitting the ball out of the yard. I'm thnking crazy thoughts by now.

I would witness this everyday I picked him up. The teacher said it was all he did all day long.

I still amazed at the things I've witnessed him
do with a baseball and football (Sorry is football a bad word here Smile )
My son was a "late bloomer". That was compounded by a myopic youth coach. This coach had a habit of making decisions based on first looks. Many of us do that, but this man then continued to look at players 3 and 4 years laters as he did the first time.

Consequently, despite hard work and improvement, many kids did not get the opportunity to demonstrate that they had improved year to year and those who were "natural" players or just bigger and better at the outset, continued to get playing time, even those who had not improved.

My son first played for this coach in 4th grade and because of the way the league worked, was assigned to his team through 8th grade. He worked his butt off in the cages and fielding drills with me, but still rode the pine.

Finally, when he entered high school there was a new coach at the frosh level who had not seen any of the incoming players. Everyone had to try out.

Short story, my son made the team while several of the "better" players from his previous team, including the coach's son, did not.

I was impressed that with all the discouragement, he stuck to baseball and he stuck to hardwork. He knew he was a better player each year, but he didn't whine about his situation, he just decided that he needed to get even better.

After his freshman year he said, "Dad, I love baseball, but I'm not going to be able to keep up much longer." (His self evaluation was correct.) "So, Dad, can I umpire?"

I remember, I assume, with the same pride you folks have when your sons get drafted, when he was offered his pro contract after umpire school. He is now working AA MiLB and, if hard work, study and dedication to his performance are enough, he may be in the show some day. Regardless, he set a goal and chased his dream and is already in the top 1% of umpires in the country. He could get released tomorrow and I would still be as proud of him as I was when he made the freshman team.
Jimmy03 quote:
After his freshman year he said, "Dad, I love baseball, but I'm not going to be able to keep up much longer." (His self evaluation was correct.) "So, Dad, can I umpire?"

That is outstanding! IMHO, passion is sometimes measured when a person knows the initial dream may not be option and then focuses on another part of that dream that requires even more mental "tools" in order to be effective.

Umpiring is the best seat in the house. Not my opinion.........just fact.

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