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The True Definition of a Baseball Player

The True Definition of a Baseball Player

To the average baseball fan there are many different types of players. There are pitchers, catchers, infielders, and outfielders; there are home run hitters, contact hitters, and speedsters; but to someone who really loves and appreciates the game there are really only two kinds of baseball players, those who are ballplayers and those who are not.

The tenth edition of the Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary defines ballplayer as a noun that means "a person who plays ball; especially a baseball player." Under this definition everyone who played the game would be a ballplayer, but this is very far from the truth.

What separates the ones who are ballplayers from those who are not? Skill and ability have little to do with it. A player does not have to be successful to be a ballplayer either. Being a ballplayer does not take a high batting average, a low ERA, a World Series Championship, or a multi-million dollar sports contract. A ballplayer's name is not necessarily known outside of the game's inner circle or his team's hometown. So what is a ballplayer?

A ballplayer can be described in many ways. At the least he is an overachiever who makes the most out of himself by possessing a strong work ethic. He is a hustler who is tough and gives his all every play of the game. A ballplayer has a great feel for the game derived from countless hours of practice and countless innings of play. He possesses great knowledge of the game of baseball. He is a team player and he is a winner. Ballplayers are not usually flashy. They are dependable, they love to play, and they are the types of players coaches want on their team.

A believer in the value of a ballplayer is Jim Leyland, one of the most respected coaches in the world. He led a low budget Pittsburgh Pirate team to multi-divisional titles in the early nineties and took a team of free agents in Florida to the Marlins' first World Championship. He once told the owner of a team, "Give me three good players and six ballplayers and I will never lose a game." He believed that the problem with his winning equation was not finding the good players, but finding the ballplayers to go with them.

Baseball historians often talk about the "Golden Age of Baseball" in the early to...

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