All throughout my life, starting from age three to now, baseball has been a part of me. Baseball has made me the person I am today, as a result of the lessons and experiences I came across while being involved. Baseball had a heavy involvement in my communications and writing while growing up. While playing the sport I love, I constantly used different methods of communications including hand motions, signals, and talking. This helped me to develop as I was able to extend how I communicated and with whom I communicated.
My first memory of using baseball signs and signals was around the age of nine when I was playing travel baseball for a team called the PQ Blacksox. I grew up in the town of Rancho Peñasquitos, in San Diego, California, so PQ was the name used to describe our community and my team. I played for this team all the way until my freshman year, so the amount of practice that I did reading signs made me perfect at it in high school baseball as well. I remember my first game being introduced to using signs. It was something I had always looked forward to trying, but never understood. Vividly, I remember my coach in his usual straw hat and black sunglasses calling my whole team over just minutes before we were going to play a team called the San Diego Longhorns (with whom I had played with before). I remember him telling us that we were going to start using signs, because eventually we’d have to learn to play the game.
So there we were, in Poway, California, on a sunny Sunday afternoon with hardly any clouds and hardly any wind. My coach began to go through the motions repeatedly so it would get ingrained into our brains before the game. “If I touch any piece of cloth on my shirt, it’s a steal”, he said. He followed that up by saying “If l wipe off my arm, the earlier signs do not matter. Just pay attention to that last sign I touch, because sometimes I won’t wipe it off.” He would further go into detail about how any time he would touch his belt it was a bunt, and any time he touched his hand it was a hit-and-run. Both of those plays are very crucial to getting runners over in baseball, so it was important for us to know those. My coach then began to put on sunscreen all over before games, like always. He surfed too, so he always had zinc sunscreen on his nose and on his cheeks. Simultaneously, all my teammates and I began to go over the signs with each other and try to get it right. There was one guy that went overboard with giving the signs and went a million miles an hour to try to mess us up. We all proved him wrong by saying the correct sign.
A few minutes later, after we had affirmed that we knew the signs and were ready to go, we began the game. We were the away team in the matchup, and I led off the game as the starting shortstop. Growing up, I was a fast runner, so I was not afraid to lay down a bunt. Unbeknownst to me, expecting to be able to swing away, my coach went through the signs, wiped them off, and then finally gave me a bunt sign. Having played this team before, the first baseman and the third baseman were playing on the grass because they anticipated a bunt due to them knowing my ability to run. I knew that I could bunt on them, but with them so close I wasn’t sure if l was going to make it on base. But on the first pitch, which was an outside fastball right on the outer part of the zone, I laid down a beautiful bunt down the third base line. Being a left-handed hitter, it was easier for me to angle my bat to bunt down the third base line. In this instant, I perfectly put a bunt down the line, just inches from the chalk line and being a foul ball. I remember dropping the bat after it hit the bat, and just absolutely turning on the jets down the line in order to beat it out. What I wasn’t expecting was that there would be no throw. Even though the third baseman was playing in, while on the grass, the bunt that I had put down was so perfect that he had no play on it and didn’t even make a throw. The pitcher, the catcher, and the third basemen all could’ve had a potential play at it, but due to my quick speed and no hesitation, I made it easy. I recall the second baseman making a remark, upset at his teammate for not making the play. He yelled at his teammate, “Pick it up kid!”
I knew immediately that with the next hitter on my team up that I was going to steal second base. The other team’s pitcher then attempted to pick me off a total of three times. While standing on the base after the third attempt, my coach began to give signs, finishing with a touching of his shirt. This meant that as soon as the ball left the pitcher’s hand, my head would be down running towards second and getting dirty if necessary. The other team expected me to run, so on that pitch they threw way outside of the zone to try to throw me out at second. I got a good jump on my steal, just beginning to run as the pitcher picked up his front foot. I took off like a bat out of hell and got there just before the throw, beating the pitchout and doing a pop-up slide that created an enormous cloud of dust. I then was on second and looked over to see my coach give and wipe off the signs. I took my lead at second and my teammate dug into the box at home plate. The pitcher then delivered, and as the ball was hit, I knew immediately that it was a base hit right up the middle and that I would be scoring. I began to run and make my turn around third, going at a full sprint with no worries in my mind. I touched home plate and within three pitches, I had scored a run already. We ultimately won that game, mostly due to our newly implemented signs.
This became the building block of communication in my baseball career, which I have excelled in since that day. By growing my communication skills as a baseball player and further developing my skills, I began to understand how to play the game at a faster pace and at a higher level, which ultimately led to my success in high school baseball. Learning to communicate in baseball also led to me being able to become a better listener and a better speaker off the field. This ultimately led to my success in high school which landed me here, at the University of Alabama.