I remember, my SR year at Bethune Cookman, we got our schedule for the spring season at the end of the fall, and the first team on the schedule was San Diego State.
Everyone was talking about this #1 ranked pitcher, who had a 101 mile an hour fastball, and who was gonna go first round and sign for like $20 million
His name was Stephen Strasburg.
I didn’t know who he was because he was a JR, I was a 5th year SR.
I was just excited to see Tony Gywnn who was the head coach at the tie and one of my favorite players growing up.
So it’s the first game of the season - I look at the lineup card,and I’m leading off, playing second.
The game is getting ready to start, I grab my bat and strap on my batting gloves.
Starsburgs on the mound getting loose, and Coach Melendez, my head coach, puts his arm around my shoulder and he says...
“Hey - I want you to try an hit a homerun”.
and I’m thinking...
“this makes no sense. I’m hitting leadoff! I’m obviously not a power guy, and you know I’m not a power guy.
You don’t even want me to be a power guy because you kick my butt out of the cage if I hit two balls in the air, in a row...
...and there’s 50 scouts in the stand here to see Strasburg so you’re just trying to keep things loose so I know you gotta be joking!!!"
But he wasn’t, because I laughed, and he didn’t even blink.
He was dead serious.
"Brooksie - I want you to try to hit a home run on the first pitch you see."
So I step in the box, and Strasburg throws a 99mph fastball middle in, and I swing.
It's a fly ball to left field, and the wind was blowing out hard to left center that day, so the ball starts carrying and I think I might have a chance to trot…
The fence was about 340 ft and it looked like I could of at least hit it about 341 ft, but then the left fielder jumped at the wall and made a routine catch.
A big-O, F7!
I turn back to the dug out and my buddy looks at me, smiles, shakes his head and says...
“warning power bro”.
Then he struck me out two more times with 6 straight fastballs.
Here’s the point of the story.
Why would coach Melendez tell me, the lead off hitter, to try to hit a home run on the first pitch I see?
Because he wanted to set a tone, and send a message.
He wanted to show that "we didn’t care who was on the mound."
He wanted me to have a killer instinct.
He wanted me to be a bull dog. Not just a bull dog but a bull dog with a bone.
He wanted me to compete.
I’m telling you right now - learning how to compete, is the missing link for a lot of you hitters.
It's a lesson that I wish I wold have learned earlier.
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