To understand where I am today, you have to understand where I came from.
Parents, please feel free to share the story with your kids!
For those of you that don’t know much about me, my life started somewhere during the month of May 1989. I was officially born around 9 months later on Feb 2, 1990. Fast forward 10 years and I found myself at Western Pines Middle School in West Palm Beach, FL. This is where the first heartbreak of my life occurred and it wasn’t from a girl. I was cut from our middle school baseball team the first year I was there. Can you imagine, a 10 year old, that loves baseball more than anything in the world told he couldn’t play baseball with his friends?
Saddened. But I took it upon myself to work harder and come back bigger, faster, stronger my next year. Only to find out that I got cut again - haha! It was after the second year that I got cut, when I began to wonder what my future held.
At age 11, was baseball for me? Do I still want to be a professional baseball player? Maybe lacrosse was the sport to be in…
This is where I shout out my parents! Both acted like nothing was wrong! Nothing changed in my workout routine or after school activities, except I was watching baseball from the stands rather than playing.
I remember crying when we were at the batting cages, because I felt like I was working for nothing, I actually began to hate baseball because of it.
But my dad pushed, and was working with me everyday. He even built me a batting cage in the backyard! The new batting cage didn’t really get along with the hurricanes we experience in Florida.
I figured I'd give it one more shot, try out my last year for middle school and if I didn’t make it, baseball would be done for me.
Middle of the day, at work, my dad's phone rings, “I MADE IT!!” as he could hear the sound of enjoyment and accomplishment in my voice. I didn’t play much that year, but one game changed my life.
Last game of the year, I’m on deck, our best hitter is up to bat with runners on second and third, down by 1 run. The guy on the mound is the best pitcher in our area. All of the sudden I hear the other coach yell “WALK HIM”. The pitcher on the mound had struck this guy out twice already and is in the 7th inning of work. I couldn’t believe it, the best pitcher is going to come up with the bases loaded in the last game of the year with a winning season on the line, and of course, just my luck, I have the best pitcher in our district to face!
I don’t remember every pitch of the at bat, but I do remember hitting a fastball to right center off the fence for the game winning hit! The pitcher that day was Ben Carhart. He’s involved in a lot of my stories. Since the famous “Western Pines Walk Off” hit (I named it that just now..) we became best friends. We went to high school and college together as well as played professional against each other.
After middle school, I attended Palm Beach Gardens High School where I played 3.5 years on Varsity, received All-State Honors multiple years, and received a scholarship to Stetson University, where I became a 3 year starter, received Freshman All-American Honors and a Junior All-American Award also, before getting drafted.
The reason I tell you this story is because if I had given up, if I didn’t have the support of my parents at a young age, none of this would have been possible.
Who knows what will happen?
No mater what you choose to do in life, never give up and push with all you have. Looking back thinking you gave up too early or didn’t work hard enough is a feeling I hope no one has to endure.
About Nick Rickles
Nick Rickles is a Father, husband and a professional baseball player. He prides himself as an athlete but prides himself as a family man first. Always giving back to fans on the field he’s taken a different direction to connect off the field. Sharing his life with us through blogging. Mylifeandbaseball.com
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