It was basketball ambassador Jim Valvano who brought the words "don't ever give up" to life, a very short time before cancer claimed him at an all-too-young age.
Independent Baseball is full of stories of the same theme because, after all, virtually every Independent leaguer has been bypassed in some way. He did not get drafted or he feels he did not get a solid chance after he signed. But where would Kevin Millar or Josh Kinney or Chris Coste or Matt Miller or the other Indy originals you will be reading about again with spring training starting be today if they had not persevered in their "hardship" times.
I was reminded of the "never ever give up" theme once more when I read about San Angelo, TX signing 27-year-old Brad Boutwell for the Colts' United League team. I imagine Boutwell still must impress Manager Doc Edwards during training camp to open the season with San Angelo, but this left-handed pitcher could have given up a long time ago without some unusual determination.
The Colts tell us Boutwell could not make his high school team even though he tried out every year. Well, he did talk the coach into allowing him to throw batting practice in his senior year. But he did not get into a single game.
It was the same story at San Jacinto Junior College in Houston. Not a single pitch. Boutwell played in men's leagues in Denver for the next five years, and attended tryout camps held by the Central League and the American Association in addition to the United League.
Finally, this determined bartender and baseball instructor met former Houston Astros pitcher Scipio Spinks. Spinks talked to Edwards, and Boutwell says "I have a professional contract on my wall. It is surreal."
He heeded Valvano's words.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
'NEVER EVER GIVE UP'
Former chief spokesman for Major League Baseball Commissioners Bowie Kuhn and Peter Ueberroth. Six years as publicity director for the Kansas City Royals, and a background in newspaper, radio and television. Started Wirz & Associates, a sports PR and consulting firm, in 1985. Has written extensively on Independent Baseball since 2003.