Your Field of Dreams

Ahhh, spring has finally sprung after a long winter over most of the USA. 

I played baseball in high school and college, and I was pretty good! I was All-State my senior year of high school, and we went to the state finals in 1980. In 1981 I was scouted by the Baltimore Orioles and had the opportunity to spend much of the season as batting practice pitcher. What a thrill for me, I was 19 at the time, and being exposed to the game at a professional level was quite the experience. It turns out, I was never drafted and soon gave up my dream pursuit. I was disillusioned, bitter, dejected, and felt it was not how good you were; it was about who you knew and politics.

I turned my attention from baseball to music, which is ironic because I hear from musicians and artists now and then who feel this has also happened to them. The realization of what I had felt at that time was at the core of my desire to create an organization who valued all artists and musicians and provide an avenue for them to present their content to the world, called Indieheaven.com. It’s still going after 20 years!

So many lessons to be learned that I want to share with you, but the takeaway is this; you should never let your dream or desire die because you feel rejected by the “powers that be.” We live in a time where the “powers that be” are more like the “powers that were.” Creatives can go right to the people without the aid of a middleman to reach them. I also see many who still think the only way to play the game is in the big leagues, in the big stadiums, in front of thousands of fans. Mostly, I see many who think they should be playing in the majors, who are just learning how to pitch, hit, and catch the ball and who do not have mentors/coaches to help them learn the fundamentals of the game.

I think this mindset is misguided and causes great distress. For starters, to play the game at the professional level, one must possess the skills and stature of a professional. Many, though, are simply not at a place where they can write or perform music at that level (even though one’s family, friends, or church-folk may say you are the next big thing who needs to be on American Idol or The Voice.) When I think of the word professional, it means being consistent with a high degree of accuracy or proficiency. For example, I can go to the driving range and hit a golf ball straight 300 yards 1 or 2 times per bucket of balls. Tiger Woods can do it every single time. That is what I’m talking ‘bout. Consistency at that level comes from a huge commitment to practice and conditioning.

For most of us, we’re never going to play the game in the professional arena. So the question remains. Do we play the game at all? Do we go up to the gates at the stadium, bang on the door and yell “Let me in, I want to play here!” Wouldn’t you agree with me that this looks rather delusional? Do we spend our time in bitterness rather than betterness? The easy way out is to be bitter, jaded, cynical and blame the music industry gatekeepers for shutting us out and not getting our music. That is a defeatist, victim mentality and keeps one ensnared in mediocrity. We’re better than that, right? The pathway to success is built on inconvenience because it takes time, commitment, education, determination, passion, and excellence to be a professional.

A few years ago while watching a Baltimore Orioles game at Camden Yards, I had a crazy vision that I was on the pitcher’s mound once again, striking out batters, and back in the game. In my vision, I saw myself jumping over the railing, running across the outfield, pushing the pitcher off the mound, taking the ball, and then…pulled that special muscle.  Ouch! OK, dream over! What was crazy with this dream? For starters, I’ll be 56 this April 25. And even though I started working out five years ago to get into playing shape, and played the past four summers in a 45+ senior league, and struck out some batters (while also walking a lot of batters),  I’ll never pitch off a mound in a professional stadium. My time has come and gone. But you know what? Just the fact that I worked hard to get into shape, so I didn’t hurt myself, (or others:) found a team to play with, and got back in the game was awesome! What a thrill to be competitive again! 

So, my final word for you is to get in the game and find a field to play on. They are all over the place! The more you play, the more proficient you will become. And, you may just one day get in the big leagues, or you may not. The main thing is to have fun and play the game on the field that’s made just for you. 

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Keith Mohr