My summers growing up were consumed by “travel ball.” I feel like I saw most of the southeastern United States before I was 12 because every summer weekend meant another district tournament, state championship, world series, or showcase.
I loved it. Unlike some of the other kids, I was fortunate in that my parents were always supportive, but never pressured me to do more than I wanted to. Other kids weren’t so lucky.
The father of one of the kids on my travel baseball team growing up was a firefighter. He would throw batting practice to his son almost all day. He would leave him sitting on a bucket in the batting cage just long enough to answer a call from the fire station, then return and get right back to it. They did that for years. The kid went on to play in the Atlanta Braves organization, so maybe it paid off. But while the rest of us were having fun, baseball for him was already a job at the age of 10.