Much has been said, especially on this blog, of the harsh realities players can face in the Pecos League. But much more can be said about the guys that are there just trying to live out their dreams.
Life is what you make it. So is the Pecos League.
This is something that 2014 Alpine Cowboy infielder, Tim Henry, knows first hand. Despite a successful high school and college career, Henry lost focus during his senior year and wasn’t drafted following his graduation from Ithaca college.
He could have completely given up on baseball and continued down the wrong path in life, but he didn’t.
When he received the opportunity to play with the Alpine Cowboys in the Pecos League, he jumped at this second chance.
“I knew what I was getting myself into, which was playing for only $60 a week, but the fact of the matter is that I knew and believed that the opportunity to play professionally in front of passionate fans for the game and for the kids was way greater than how little money I was playing for.
“It’s a matter of what you make of the opportunity and how you see it. I took advantage of it and worked hard. I understood that if I played well and helped the Cowboys win, then I would continue to get more opportunities.”
All around the baseball world, players who thought they would get drafted will be left sitting at home without a phone call. What they do after the disappointment is the true test.
Many, like Henry, see the Pecos League and independent baseball as their chance to get better and prove themselves.
“I don’t want kids to give up on the dream, even if they don’t sign or get drafted,” Henry explained. “Playing independent baseball is an amazing opportunity and so much fun. You’re playing with a group of guys who don’t play for the money, but play for the love of the game.”
These players live, train, and play with others who have the same dreams and desires. They experience the highs and lows together which creates a bond and “brotherhood” that cannot be broken. Memories are made and lessons are learned that last a lifetime.
With the Pecos League located in the heart of the southwest: Arizona, Texas, New Mexico and Colorado, it is a once in a lifetime opportunity to play professional baseball in a beautiful area of the country that the players normally wouldn’t get to see if it wasn’t for the sport.
A lot of players cherish having another platform to showcase their skills and to earn a chance to play at a higher level. The experience a player takes away from independent baseball is entirely up to them. It can fulfill your biggest dreams, or become your worst nightmare. It’s really depends on the player and his attitude towards the situation.
Henry made the most of his time with the Cowboys. He worked hard, played hard, and thoroughly enjoyed his time in the Pecos League. He used his experience there to earn a spot on a team in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia this winter and is looking to move up in the independent ranks for the 2015 season.
However, being able to continue playing, training and improving his skills this off season was only one reason that he decided to head “down-under.” He also wanted the chance to be outdoors and experience all that Australia had to offer. Henry is currently working as a coach, giving lessons to aspiring young Aussies while helping the popularity of the sport grow. Working with young players has helped him realize that what he has is special. He doesn’t plan to ever make the same mistakes off the field that had once jeopardized his professional career and the support he has from his family.
The Pecos League isn’t glamorous, but it could be that second chance – that one opportunity to put someone back on the right track.
Henry still has dreams of reaching an affiliated organization and isn’t ready to give it up just yet because he knows what life is like without baseball in it.
“Baseball saved my life because I know that without it, I’d probably be nothing. I’ve had a lot of failures, trials and tribulations in my life, made a lot of mistakes, and it’s baseball that’s honestly really kept me out of trouble.”
Henry was also recently featured in a “Motivational Nuggets” video produced by Chicago White Sox prospect, CJ Beatty.