Last Friday I received a phone call around midnight from the manager of our team. When a manager, or any coach, calls you that late at night it generally means one of two things: You are in trouble or moving up.
Without time to process what was about to happen, I answered the phone. Our manager said, "Hey Mac. Guess who's starting for Portland (the Double-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox) tomorrow?"
As soon as I heard that question, a big smile came over my face. I knew I would be moving up to AA.
After I got the call, I borrowed my roommate's car and drove to the field to pack up my gear. My parents were in town visiting and had just dropped me off at my house an hour before, so I sent them a text letting them know the good news.
As I packed my bag, one of the team's staff members informed me of my flight information and general travel arrangements. After I packed my bag at the field and at home, I got into bed around 1:15 a.m.
The following morning my flight was at 6:15 a.m. and my parents got up early to give me a ride to the airport. I was short on sleep but excited none the less.
When you travel in the minor leagues via bus, there isn't a strict dress code because everyone knows the travel is long and comfort is a top priority.
Travel by plane (especially when moving up) is about looking professional. Just like anyone traveling for work, you represent the company you work for at all times. A collared shirt, dress pants and a clean shave is extremely important.
After a layover in Detroit, I arrived in Portland, Maine. just after noon.
First impressions are important. Upon arrival at a new club, the first thing you do after setting down your bags is go talk with the coaches. Let them know you are ready to play, find out any team/clubhouse rules, etc. Afterward, it is important to make your rounds saying hi to your new teammates, the training staff, etc. You are a part of a new team, so letting them know you are ready to compete and buy into the team is a big deal.
As you get closer to the game, it is important to meet with the pitching coach and catcher to find out what has worked against the opposing team during that series. Let them know your strengths, put together a game plan and ensure everyone is on the same page.
From there it is simple: Get ready to pitch your game, clear your mind and focus on executing. No one is expecting a perfect game or for you to strikeout 15 in your first outing, especially given the circumstances. Just go out and pitch the way you have to get there.
My experiences moving up over the last two years have been a lot of fun and have brought a lot of joy into my life. They are mini-milestones in my pursuit to reach the Major Leagues.
McCarthy is a former CSUB pitcher who now plays for the Portland (Maine) Sea Dogs, the Double-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. His column runs Sundays throughout the baseball season. He can be reached at email@example.com.