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New Team, Same Dream

January 10th, 2018

By Javi Salas

I realized my first childhood dream the day I set foot on campus at the University of Miami as a student-athlete. I can’t remember anything I wanted more than to wear the orange and green and play for the Hurricanes. Over the course of the next four years, I was able to play with my best friends, develop as a player, develop as a person and most importantly obtain my degree.

I will never be able to thank Coach Morris, JD Arteaga, and Gino DiMare enough for giving me the opportunity to wear a jersey that meant so much to me. You see the thing about the University of Miami that people don’t understand, is that it’s more than a school for us. We grow up so attached to the school, the tradition, the legacy, that the recruiting process isn’t much of a process rather just a formality.

I never thought twice about my choice and was never more at peace with a decision in my life. My one piece of advice to any local player is if you get the opportunity to play at home, in front of your family and friends, DO IT. You will never regret it. Having your support system at every game is a feeling unlike any other. Coming out of the double doors in the locker room to see your family and friends after any game is the greatest feeling in the world. To this day, I take the long way home sometimes just to drive by the front of “The Light” just to make sure nothing has changed or that no one is trespassing.

The day I signed my professional contract I had no idea what I would be in for. I boarded a plane to Helena, Montana and my journey began. First of all, for a Miami kid like myself, it was difficult to even comprehend where Helena is located.

Over the next three years, the Brewers gave me the opportunity of a lifetime. It truly is a first class organization from top to bottom. I never came across a coach, staff member, or player that I truly did not get along with. There is something to be said for an organization that is filled with great people at every single level. Although I never reached my ultimate goal of pitching in the big leagues with the Brew Crew, I am a better person for having been a member of that organization.

Every so often, I am asked “Do you miss baseball?” As much as I want to say no, I’d be lying. For me, baseball touched all five of my senses in a way that words would never be able to describe. I’ll miss hearing the national anthem, and the goosebumps that would come over me as I walked over the mound and looked into the crowd. I’ll miss reciting the same prayer that I mouthed to myself behind the mound. The camaraderie, the clubhouse, the dugout, the bullpen, those are all things that I miss on a daily basis. I miss my teammates, I miss the coaches, the fans, and even the critics. I miss the laughter, the pranks, the stories, and even the sadness. Being on a team is all I have ever known, I’ve never not been part of a team. Coming together with people from all different backgrounds to achieve a common goal is a beautiful thing.

Over the course of my career I won, I lost and even recorded a save. There were games where I went nine innings and games where I couldn’t get a single out. I struck hitters out and gave up home runs. I walked hitters and induced double plays.

For every moment where I’ve felt on top of the world, there have been moments where I’ve never been more humbled. As a hitter, I have one hit, plenty of strikeouts, a couple of successful bunts, and a few moments where I feared for my life in the batter’s box.

I have traveled on buses and planes all over to play this game. I’ve lived with teammates from Taiwan, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Mississippi and South Carolina among many others. I played against major leaguers, future hall of famers, top prospects and even walked Tim Tebow.

I was perfect once but definitely not solo. On a night in March 2014 I happened to be on the mound with my Hurricanes teammates and got 27 outs in a row. I wish I could take all the credit, but if it wasn’t for the diving plays, magical spinning throws, and a little luck, it would’ve been just another Tuesday night at Mark Light Field.

Over the course of my career, I’ve had the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. That night with my family in the crowd and my brother on the radio call, my world stood still for a minute. I threw one perfect game in my career and was interviewed one time on air by my little brother. They both happened on the same night and is something that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Although I won’t realize my dream of playing in the big leagues, I have transitioned to another area which gives me a sense of purpose and accomplishment. I joined a new team in December at Jefferies. I traded the jersey for a suit and my spikes for dress shoes. I knew that one day my baseball career would end, as it does for everyone, and that I would need to be prepared to transition. Thankfully, I started my dream job, helping athletes like myself plan for their futures financially. Although I left behind one dream in 2017, I am excited for my future in 2018 and beyond.

I want to thank the game of baseball. Thank you for allowing a kid to dream and believe that he could achieve more than he could have ever imagined. Thank you for allowing me to take the journey of a lifetime and to meet some of the greatest people on this earth. Thank you for teaching me that its not always the end result that matters but that it’s the journey that makes all the difference. It taught me that being a good teammate can’t be quantified by a statistic. I came to learn there are no such thing as bad days, only good days and great days.

Thank you to all my coaches especially Coach Weber, Coach Morris, JD and Gino. Thank you for challenging me, teaching me, and allowing me to be a part of your teams.

Thank you to all the unsung heroes, GM, Gabe, Jimmy, the trainers, therapists and nutritionists.

Thanks to all my teammates. It was truly a pleasure and loved playing with every one of you guys. I root for all of you and hope to see you guys playing at Marlins Park soon.

Most importantly, I want to thank God for giving me the ability to play the game I love for so long and for guiding me through all the crossroads in my life.

Last but not least, thank you to my parents, uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents, and friends. You guys made the journey worthwhile with your constant support and outpouring of love, win or lose. They say it takes a village to raise a child. It just so happens that my village never missed a game. From Miami to Montana, Appleton to Brevard, Biloxi to Maryvale and everywhere in between, you guys are the best.

I didn’t give up on my dream. It’s just taken a different form. I don’t think I’ll ever feel differently about the game. I am not bitter I didn’t make it and am happy I had the chance. Everyday I wore a jersey I had a chance to do something special. That is a privilege and an honor. Players come and go, but the game marches on.

To the greatest game in the world, a sincere and heartfelt thank you.

To connect with Javi on LinkedIn, click here

One Response to “New Team, Same Dream”

  1. Eric Tabarly says:

    Amazing piece, Javi. Even though it must be tough, that’s the best attitude to have. Use that fuel to make sure this new phase and dream eclipses the last.

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