The other day as I was speaking with a player and his father they asked me the following question; In your opinion what separates players who get more opportunities from those that don’t? What a great question I thought, but an easy one to answer. Without hesitation I responded, CHARACTER.
Character by definition is the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual. I like to define Character as, Who are you when no one is looking and are you that same person when they are looking. Are the decisions and actions you take when your alone in the comfort of your family the same decisions and actions you take when your around your friends, teammates, colleagues, coaches, teachers…..
Why Character Matters? Because coaches need to know that their players will represent their team, organization and/or school in the light that it deserves. College coaches ask all the time “What is his make-up like”. The best programs in the country recruit talent and “make-up”. I have seen programs and MLB teams pass up on players who have unbelievable talent because they lacked the “make-up”.
I saw it first hand in my 6 years as a professional athlete. Players, who had no shot of making the major leagues and were consider organizational players, playing professional baseball for 10+ years because they had great character. I also saw the opposite, first-round, high ceiling players never making it past A-ball because they had terrible “make-up”. And to be truthful with you the only reason they made it to A-ball was because they were a first-round pick.
I can vividly remember sitting in extended spring training in the clubhouse after an outing and over hearing our Pitching Rover and Scouting Director talking about filling a roster spot in Triple-A for two weeks due to an injury. This is what they said “lets give….. a shot, he’s a great character guy and will be a great fit for the club”. The player they were talking about had never pitched higher then Low-A at the time and was considered an organizational player who was drafted in the 40th rounds.
Currently, I am the Director of Player Development and Assistant Coach at Bishop McNamara HS in MD. Before I was sent out to recruit my first day I was told by our Head Coach that we want Character players so make sure if your going to have me recruit a player that they possess the “make-up” we are looking for. “Let their talent attract us but their Character needs to make us want them” are the words he told me and is the way we recruit.
So to all the baseball players out there always remember that your Character, who you are off the field, will always take you further than your Talent. Your talent may get you to where you want to be, don’t get me wrong, but your Character is what will keep you there. Coaches, at all levels, want players who possess great Character because the players on their team are a reflection of who they are.