Editor’s Note: Twenty-five-year old Mossy Oak Pro David Buchanan from Atlanta, Georgia, is living every young baseball player’s dream. He's a starting pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies professional baseball team. He made his debut in the Major Leagues on May 24, 2014, after signing a contract to play in the Philadelphia Phillies program in 2010.
As a baseball player, I have a lot of demands on my time - not only in the game, after the game and in-between games. So, when I go hunting, that tree stand, duck blind or hike gives my brain and my emotions an opportunity to relax and not have to worry about my performance. I like to get up early, eat a good breakfast and go out into the woods deer hunting. I love to climb into a tree stand and listen to the sounds of the wild as the world wakes up. I like to hunt when the weather is cold and brisk. As the day brightens up, and the animals wake up, I enjoy watching a new day start and see the animals and the birds looking for their breakfasts. When I'm in my tree stand, I don’t have to worry about the next batter, I don’t have to answer the phone, there’s not a line of fans wanting autographs, and I don’t have to text. I get a chance to just be by myself, be quiet and relax.
When I can put on my Mossy Oak camouflage, pick up a gun or a bow and be out in the woods, that’s exactly what I want to do. I think anyone who enjoys a high pressure job – like I have in professional sports - looks forward to the time when there’s no pressure. Sure, I want to take a deer or a duck that’s within range, but if I don’t, that’s okay too. However, if I throw the wrong pitch to the batter, and he hits a home run with the bases loaded - that’s not okay. My decompressing in the off-season is important and the best way I know how to do that is to be in the woods wearing my Mossy Oak.
I've been really fortunate that God has blessed me with a talent to play professional baseball. Sure, I’d like to be on an All-Star team, win a pennant, win the World Series, and be put into the Baseball Hall of Fame. These possibilities are out in front of me. Right now, I want to use the talents God has given me to the very best of my ability, for as long as I can. When I lay my head down to go to sleep each night, I want to be able to tell myself, “David, you worked as hard as you could today to be the best you could be.” Then I can sleep really well. I also have coaches and coordinators who are really working hard to help me become the best I can be. That’s what I like about the Philadelphia Phillies organization. They're not only trying to help me become the best pitcher I can be, but they're teaching me life skills to become the best person I can be. Our coaches know that their players have other things going on in their lives besides baseball. They give us advice and suggestions to solve all kind of problems that we may have or encounter. Often our coaches will check in with us during the off-season just to see how our lives are going, or if there’s anything they can help us with or do. They become our friends - not just our coaches.
When I talk to youngsters who want to be professional baseball players, I tell them, “Be the player who doesn’t take no for an answer.” All along the route from playing your first baseball game to making it to the majors, people will remind you that there are very few players who make it to the big leagues. These folks will tell you all the reasons that you're probably not going to make it, but don’t believe them. If you have that burning desire and talent, and you don’t quit, there's a spot for you in Major League baseball. If you feel that there's something that you can do to become a better baseball player, do it. Don’t listen to the people who say you don’t have to work that hard, and you don’t have to do that much. You have to be willing to work harder than the people who don’t make it to the big leagues and do the things they won’t do to get better. You really have to have a strong work ethic.
Often, I've had parents come up to me and ask, “What can I do to help my child become a better baseball player and to one day play in the Major Leagues?” For younger children who want to be pitchers, I tell them to stay away from trying to learn how to throw breaking balls. They should practice on being able to put their fast ball on both sides of the plate consistently. When I'm throwing in the bull pen to warm up to go pitch, 90 percent of my pitches will be fast balls. I also tell the parents to be supportive of their youngsters. They’ll have good days, and they’ll have bad days. So, make sure that you always encourage them, regardless of the kind of day they have. Also, be aware of how many pitches your youngster is throwing. Don’t let him throw too many. Don’t let them get so involved in baseball that they miss out on their childhoods. The most important thing is to make sure your youngster is having fun playing baseball. Baseball is a game. It’s supposed to be fun. Even though it’s our job, my teammates and I have fun every time we go out to play baseball. Not only do I enjoy the competition of pitching, I love baseball. Baseball is fun, and I get to have fun every day I go to work. So, make sure your youngsters are having fun playing baseball. If baseball isn’t fun for them, they can never be as good as they can be.
For more about David Buchanan and the Philadelphia Phillies, go to philadelphia.phillies.mlb.com.