By Noah Graff
Yesterday at a café in Chicago I met a guy from Venezuela. Of course one of the first things I asked him was if he was a big baseball fan. Baseball is huge in Venezuela and I figured this would be a good way to connect.
As I suspected, he was, and soon we got to talking about the difference in how baseball players begin playing in poor countries like Venezuela and the Dominican Republic verses in the United States. He told me that typically in Venezuela, kids play baseball in the street, using bottle caps instead of a ball and use a broomstick as a bat. Sometimes they also use cardboard milk cartons as gloves.
Turns out that after learning to hit a bottle cap with a broomstick, hitting a real baseball with Louisville Slugger seems like a cinch.
What does it tell us when Major League Baseball is dominated by players who come from such impoverished backgrounds that they couldn’t even afford basic equipment?
Equipment, a nice baseball diamond, money for resources—stuff—it’s overrated. These poor kids make it big because of their passion for a game they love. Or, maybe it’s just their desperate determination to overcome poverty that’s the key to their success. Probably a bit of both.
Passion, talent, desperation. Those are the necessities for success. Get those things and that other “stuff” should take care of itself.