It Made a Man of Me

I didn’t know it at the time, but after I heard that pop, it was the last pitch I would throw competitively for a school team. I’m glad I didn’t know it at the time because that moment would have been even more agonizing – I couldn’t even imagine that. I remember being in the trainers office after it all happened and I had this feeling that something had been torn out of my chest. Well it’s not hard to imagine that my heart was gone. There was a big deep black pit in my chest after arguably the best season of my life so far. No more.

I wrote a long time ago about the countless doctors visits, the agonizing physical therapy, and all that came with having surgery on my elbow, but I didn’t write about one story…and that’s what I want to write about today.

After I went down, I was ordered by the doctor to take 6 weeks off from throwing due to multiple stress fractures. So I did, and I still went to practice every day. I tossed the coach baseballs while he was hitting grounders for the team. I helped the other pitchers out with mechanics and bullpen sessions. I underhand tossed kids batting practice with my other arm. I tried to do everything possible I could to help those guys out who were still playing. But that big black pit was still in my chest.

I remember walking onto the mound one day after practice, standing up there nice and tall like I had just a couple of weeks before, and then as I looked down, I saw the developing hole in the clay where the pitchers foot pushes up against the rubber. In fact, that whole area was falling apart. I walked over to the bullpen mounds…the most horrid mounds you have ever seen in your life – same deal. I knew what I was going to do at practice until my arm recovered.

I rebuilt those mounds every single day. They were pristine. Our pitchers would walk up on them and give me the ,”Way to go Colonel” (my nickname in case you didn’t know). They would then proceed to tear them apart, dig into them, and then leave without any remorse. That was part of the game. So, after each practice, I would spend my  time rebuilding those mounds. Stamping clay into the landing spots, making everything even, and combing the soft dirt over the slope. Water it down. Cover it up. Ready for the next day.

It made a man of me. It made a man of me because every single day, I would go do something for other people. I would never throw off of those mounds again – but that didn’t mean I couldn’t make them as good as I could for those who were still going after their dreams. But it also made me a man because every single day, I would start fresh and then watch uncontrollable things happen to my mound. Without hesitation, I would go back to the mound, grab the rake, do my job and even find ways to do it better than the last time. Those mounds arguably turned into better mounds than the main one everyone used to pitch off of – the one that received the most attention. Isn’t this how life works? You have a gift each and every day. The gift of a fresh start, and whatever life throws at you seems to drag you down a bit (whether that is self-inflicted or uncontrollable). As the days continue to go by, I learn more and more that you can either look at your mound in horror…or you can go back to work, each and every day, and make your life’s mound the best it can be. That is what The Better Man Project is about. That is what my day-to-day looks like. Learning. Raking. Stamping. Watering. And in the end, I watch myself grow.

Evan Sanders


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  • Stephanie
    March 27, 2013 at 9:37 am

    That must’ve been difficult to deal with at the time. Good thing that personal growth isn’t limited to past activities or most of us would be completely screwed.

  • Mark1
    March 27, 2013 at 10:04 am

    This was so interesting to me. You may not believe this but when I was I just got out of high school back in 1977, I took a job with the park department in my home town. Steve Bailey, a retired professional baseball player with the Cleveland Indians for 1 or 2 seasons (You’ll have to look him up.) was the director of Parks and Recreation at the time and of course his passion was all the baseball fields in all the parks in Lorain, Ohio. Where do I come in? I was on the crew which dragged, lime marked, painted foul lines, etc., etc., on all the diamonds. I remember Steve would sometimes drive his sedan right out into the field to observe our work. He once told me how our ball diamond markings could help someone follow their dream. Great post. Brought back some memories of mine. Very inspirational. -Mark

  • sonworshiper
    March 27, 2013 at 11:03 am

    Selflessness, looking out to see the needs of others… yep, that’s definitely part of the “growing up” formula. Awesome job making the best of a difficult situation.

  • michelle213akron
    March 27, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    His mercies are new every morning!

  • Joyous Darling
    March 27, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    This story is so true! I left the softball team after my freshman year of college because I wanted to concentrate more on my classes and I wound up getting a job for sports information of campus. Now I write, travel, and handle game stats for the team! I love it.

  • whereisset
    March 27, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    Reblogged this on moments of set and commented:
    The core of life.

  • Robert A. WIlson author of Fear is My Friend
    March 28, 2013 at 7:19 am

    Congradulations on exhibiting the courage to expand out of it and allowing yourself to showcase your talents to expand my life and the world.

  • bernadetteyoungquist
    March 28, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    So beautifully shared, thank you. I will share it with my son, a 14 year old pitcher.

  • Book Review: The Better Man Project by Evan Sanders | Tranquil Dreams
    March 28, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    […] fellow blogger Evan@ The Better Man Project (click on the link there to see his latest pos) published his new motivational/inspirational […]

  • wizardwisdom101
    March 30, 2013 at 6:30 am

    Once again I am encouraged and astounded.Thank you for touching my soul yet again…

    • Revolution G.R.I.N.D.
      April 2, 2013 at 4:16 pm

      Check out Revolution G.R.I.N.D. for even more article like this.

  • Pamela Spiro Wagner
    March 31, 2013 at 7:49 am

    Lovely piece.

  • Revolution G.R.I.N.D.
    April 2, 2013 at 9:38 am

    Reblogged this on Revolution G.R.I.N.D. and commented:
    This was the reason I am who I am.