Editor’s Note: Mossy Oak is more than a camouflage, hunting, wildlife management and rural properties company. Mossy Oak is made up of some of the best people in the world. This week you’ll meet 29-year old Jon Lester from Washington State, who was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in 2002 at only age 18, and who spent 4 years in the minor leagues and then went to the big leagues in 2006. Lester is currently one of the best left-handed pitchers in the sport of baseball, is starting for the Boston Red Sox and has the best record in baseball for 2013. Lester, a Mossy Oak Pro Staffer, also is a hunter, a cancer survivor and a family man.
My team, the Boston Red Sox, was playing the Colorado Rockies in 2007. I was 23-years old and only had been playing in the big leagues for a year. Our team had a great season. I was called up to pitch the fourth and final game of the World Series. Our team was up 3 games to 0. This could be the game that would determine whether or not we were the World Champions in baseball. We had to win this game to win the World Series.
As I walked to the mound to throw the first ball of the game, the crowd noise, my realization that I would be on TV transmitted around the world and my team had all its fans and their hopes of winning the World Series resting on my shoulders, I had a lot of nerves, emotion and butterflies in my stomach. As I took that long walk to the pitcher’s mound, I couldn’t believe how wild the crowd was. So-many people were packed in the bleachers that I just took a moment to look around and study the landscape. This game was the first time. I ever had played in the Rockies stadium at Coors Field. I wanted to soak in the landscape, the crowd and the importance of this game. After about 30 or 45 seconds of thinking about what was about to happen, I knew I had to change my focus to the catcher’s mitt, the signals he would call and the batter I was about to face.
There is almost a straight wire mentally between the pitcher and the catcher, mentally discussing how we are going to try to get this batter to strike out right now. The term we use for blocking-out the world and only concentrating on the catcher, the batter and the pitch you are about to throw is called, “getting up to game speed”. When I’m up to game speed, I don’t hear the crowd; I don’t hear the noise; and I’m in a silent tunnel. The one I’m communicating with is the catcher, and we never speak a word. If you can’t get up to game speed, and you’re a pitcher, you’ll have a short night and be replaced on the mound. When I’m on the mound, I’ve learned to focus only on the pitch I am about to throw to the catcher and the batter and getting the batter in the batter’s box out. That same kind of focus is required when you have a big deer in close. You have to concentrate on the spot and make sure you go through your shot sequence perfectly, and you have to deliver the arrow with a smooth release.
I was fortunate to have great baseball players like Curt Schilling, Josh Beckett, Tim Wakefield, Mike Schinland work with me and to have Jason Varitek as my catcher, which took a lot of pressure off me as a young pitcher. All these players and many more taught me how to control my focus. I often would ask, “What do you guys think about when you are on the mound?” They would tell me how they got focused, and through trial and error I learned how to get my focus.
For more information on Jon Lester, CLICK HERE.