Season of Thanksgiving

Things I'm thankful for. BASEBALL & SOFTBALL EDITION

Give and you will receive

As the offseason takes hold, I find myself reflecting on the last year of competition and all the work put into improving my play on the field.  Catching for hours in preseason baseball practices. Pitching bullpens at home and bp to teammates. Hundreds of hours of soft toss and hitting off the tee into my net in the backyard. Weekly trips to the cages. Fielding groundballs every chance I got. Transfer drills, almost daily. Filming and rewatching to see where I could improve my mechanics. 

I gave a lot of myself this year, to improve my game, in order to be a better asset to my teams. And it paid off. My fielding was much cleaner and my throws more accurate. My footwork improved, and my turns at 2nd were better. My batting average increased .150 points over the previous season, and my obp went up .060 points. I started catching games again and threw out runners. I pitched when needed. I made the transition from playing only shortstop to playing whichever position our team had the biggest hole in any given game. 

I gave a lot of myself, but seeing the work payoff is something I'm grateful for. It encourages me to keep building on the last year. I still have a long way to go. 

The game gives back

Anyone who has played baseball or softball knows how hard the game can be. Long innings. Bad hops. Injuries. Being a great hitter, yet still getting out 6 out of 10 times you step to the plate. The difference between a strike and a ball in the dirt being a one inch difference at the point of release. Getting hit by pitches. Making errors that cost your team. Umpires with inconsistent strike zones. Losing a one run game or getting blown out. 

These events are frustrating. They are things we will inevitably encounter throughout a long season. So, why do we do it? Why do we keep coming back and subjecting ourselves to it?

Because we love the game. We love the pursuit. We love that it is not easy. The difficulty is what makes it feel so good when we succeed. It's what drives us. Making that diving play. Striking out the opponent's top hitter. Barreling up a fastball and driving it deep. The elation we get from winning. 

There is so much the game has given me to be thankful for this year. 


In a previous article, Home (plate) away from Home, I talked about places that playing baseball took me this year. I took my first trip to Las Vegas to play in a weekend MSBL tournament. Even though I knew what to expect of Sin City, it still was a bit overwhelming the first time. I only saw a small piece of what the town has to offer, but I plan to go to play ball again next year.

In October,  I made two trips to the Phoenix area in Arizona to play in the NABA World Series and MSBL World Series. Both trips down were a great experience. The weather was perfect, except for 30 mins of lightning and a brief downpour. Playing at the spring training complexes is day and night from playing at our local fields. The competition was great. Spending time with friends and new teammates was the highlight. I look forward to these adventures every year.

A bonus game in Monterey was an unexpected surprise. While only two hours away, I had never played up there. It was my first time having a game on turf, and it was on a field that I'd wanted to play at since my dad took me to the neighboring park as a kid. 

I'm thankful for the chances to play ball on the road, to see new places and go where baseball took me. 

New baseball teams

I love being a player for the Outlaws, both our league and tournament squads. I wouldn't give that up. We are a team started from scratch a couple of years ago, trying to build ourselves into contenders. It's a process that I'm glad to be a part of...building a team from the ground up. 

One of the pleasant rules in our league is that as long as you are already on a team, you can serve as a sub for other teams during the regular season. This year I volunteered to be a sub whenever a team was in need. I was able to play numerous extra games with two additional teams throughout the summer, often playing three games on Sundays. Between my training to play anywhere on the field and these extra opportunities, I played all 9 positions over the course of the summer. And got about 15 extra games out of it. 

I was blessed with a second Arizona tournament team as well. Through the Facebook group, BTOP, I met some awesome guys from Oklahoma. We hit it off talking about baseball and they invited me to join them for the MSBL tourney. I jumped at the chance. It was a fun week and I look forward to playing with the Oklahoma Baseball Club again in the future. 

I'm thankful for the opportunities to play that these teams gave me. They are memories I'll be chasing for years to come and friendships I wouldn't have had without the love of the game. 

New softball teams

While I live on the diamond, my other home is the softball field. I've played the previous 8 years with the same men's and coed team. Before the spring season started those teams dissolved. I was planning to just take the year off from softball and concentrate on baseball and bat making. 

Then a friend reached out to me, asking if I would fill in for him on a coed team since he would be unavailable. After a short deliberation I agreed. And it was one of the better decisions I made this year. 

I'd never met any of my teammates, but immediately, they made me feel like I belonged. Even though they are all in their 20s, they never made me feel like the odd man out. The chemistry was instant.


I can't say enough how much I love the people on this team. They make each and every game fun. They are the perfect mix of goofball and competitor. I looked forward to every Thursday and was sad anytime we had a bye. Even when I was enjoying my time in Arizona I was missing them the whole time. Sadly two of them are moving to Texas but I'm hopeful that the rest of the Oddballs stay together to defend our championship next season! 


The men's team I belonged to is hard to separate from the Oddballs. Many of the ballers on LFG are also Oddballs. Playing with these guys was a blast and I'm grateful for the opportunity to win 2 championships within 4 days with most of these guys. Plans are already in the works to come out hitting the ground running in the spring.

I got the love of softball back this year. Playing with these guys made me realize the youth I still have in me. It reminded me how important it is to have the right people in the dugout with you. 

I'm thankful for Brice, Sarah, Chandler, Rosie, Lauren, JP, Dylan, JD, James, Matt, Ashley, Deanna, Dusty, Jedi, and Noah. Quack!

Places I feel at home

Where I lay my head at night is my house, but the ball field is home. However, this year I have come across a few places that have made me feel like family. 


Baseball Training for Older People is a Facebook group started by Josh Nichols late in 2020. While I plan to write more about it in a future story, an article about what I'm thankful for wouldn't be complete without mentioning this group. 

What started as a page to encourage other adults to train and share what they do to stay baseball ready, has grown into a community of amateur players who encourage each other, post about their baseball exploits and reach out to help each other in the baseball life. There are stories of players finding the game after decades away. Guys in their 70s still taking the field. Tips for keeping your knees intact when catching at the age of 50. Posts about people from the group meeting up and competing against each other at tourneys. And, yes training posts.

As the year has gone on, I've gotten more involved with BT⚾️P. I've been a guest on BTOP Live, the (usually) weekly live interview hosted by Josh. I've collaborated on ideas for the group. I encourage others to join, to bring their experiences for us to share. 

And the group has given back. The members are supportive, kind and competitive. All share the love for baseball that most of us found in our youth. It's a great place to be if you still play or are thinking about hitting the field again.  

You won't be disappointed in this group if you love baseball.


When you were a kid, did you have a friend's house where you were treated like family? Where you can walk in the door  without knocking, wave at mom and dad and have a seat on the sofa? That's how I feel at Flippos

From the first time I walked in the doors shortly after they opened, I knew this was a second home. The friendship with the staff blossomed immediately. I fell in love with the batting cages and stayed for the tri tip sandwiches. They fell in love with my bats. From then on, I've been a regular patron of the place, going almost every Saturday to get in my cage time and mingle. I recommend Flippos to everybody, as they truly go out of their way to make it a great place for every visitor. 

They have a dozen 805 bats ready for anyone to use for hitting in the cages. They are currently the only place to go try out an 805 bat, besides asking me or someone who owns one if you can give one a go.  And they are the ONLY physical location in the world where someone can place an order for an 805 bat. 

I am thankful for the friendship, hospitality and trust both BTOP and Flippos have extended to me. I don't take that lightly and I hope my friendship in return can match theirs.

Inspirations and Influences

In 2021, baseball inspired me to branch out. To get out of my comfort zone. I had begun making bats last year, mostly for myself and a couple friends. It was a way to stay busy in the offseason and was therapeutic following the passing of my dad. But after a few practices, my teammates encouraged me to go farther with it. 

805 Bats

At the beginning of the year, I officially started crafting bats under my 805 Bats label. I didn't know what to expect. I didn't know if they would be a flop or a modest success. While I've had a landscaping business for years, where my creativity was an asset, I was going out on a limb. I'm not used to putting my work on display.  

I had a modest goal to start the year. I would have been happy to meet it by the end of the year. I reached it in June. As of now, I've crafted 3 times more custom bats than I'd initially hoped for. I'm humbled by the outpouring of support from family, friends and strangers. Encouraged by the feedback. 

Bat making is a hobby that I truly have a love for, and to be able to see so many starting to use my bats brings me a lot of joy. 

I'm thankful to have the opportunity to make bats. The friendships created. The challenge. All I've learn in the process. How it keeps me connected to my favorite game, even when I'm not on the field. 

I'm grateful that it inspired me to start this blog. 


I'm actually a pretty shy person. I do not put myself out there very often. You might think that is a contradiction considering I'm now putting so much of myself out for people to see. You'd probably be right. I don't know what to expect as this blog unfolds, just as I didn't know how starting a bat company would go. 

I hope my stories reach people well. I hope readers come away informed or  entertained. Maybe inspired? I really don't know. I'm still finding my bounds as a writer. 

What I do know is my mind is always on the move, especially as it relates to baseball. It's no exaggeration when I say I'm thinking about the sport while working in people's yards, when turning bats or while trying to fall asleep at night. My bat bag is always in the trunk of the car, ready to go. I have a bucket of balls and a bucket of bats sitting next to me as I write this. 

I believe there are others out there that can relate. Whose love of the game and desire to play run deep. 

I'm thankful for those who encourage me to write. That I have an outlet for my thoughts. That baseball gives so much to contemplate and discuss. 

What has baseball given you to be thankful for?

Nothing in life is perfect. The struggles we face give us a chance to grow or be broken. We are at our best when we find the positivity and opportunities every situation gives us, even when the prospects seem bleak. Our spirits raise when we find the good in our lives. And now, the Thanksgiving season, is the time we set aside for reflection. What we have to be thankful for. Who has made a difference in our lives. Lessons we learned. 

Among everything else, I'm grateful for baseball and softball and am thankfully for all the substance it adds to my journey. 

Happy Thanksgiving to you.


Play ball


Popular Posts