Baseball Will Stay With Larry Balkwill Forever
Larry Balkwill isn’t done his baseball career yet, far from it in fact, but when the day does come, the game will stay with him long after his last at bat.
“The experiences I have had as a professional baseball player will stay with me for the rest of my life,” said Balkwill. “It’s a surreal experience in all aspects. There are definite highs and lows, from playing in front of 5000+ people to playing in front of 50. Locker rooms and stadiums that make you feel like you’re in ‘AAA’ to experiences that make you feel like you’re playing in a college league in the middle of nowhere. I’ve created relationships with people and friendships that will last forever. The bus trips are some of the most fun I’ve had and some of the worst times I’ve had. The best part about it is no matter how good or how bad it gets on the field of off the field there’s always a game scheduled for tomorrow.”
Balkwill’s flexibility, and ability to adapt has allowed him to survive playing professional baseball. He’s played in Quebec City, Ottawa, and Chicago in recent seasons, and is about to embark on a new campaign with the Lake Erie Crushers in Avon, Ohio.
“I think it takes a certain mindset to want to play professional baseball. Obviously the talent has to be there but also the work ethic. People see guys on TV making millions of dollars and think it’s so easy, but those guys spend 10-14 hours a day at the stadium, whether it’s working on hitting or defensive skills, working out or rehabbing it’s incredibly demanding physically,” said the former Detroit Tigers draft pick.
“It’s also demanding mentally as the pressures that come with performance. There is always someone else looking to get your job or get on the roster so a player needs to keep motivated and stay hungry. In the minor leagues most players make less than $1500 a month so a player needs to be motivated while making less than minimum wage. At the end of the day though you’re getting paid to play baseball so it’s pretty sweet when you get to wake up workout, take some batting practice and play a game of baseball every day. You have to find enjoyment in everything or else you won’t go very far in the minors.”
After leaving his NCAA career early from Sienna College, Balkwill started his professional career, which is now entering his 7th season. At this point in his career, Balkwill goes where he’s needed, with each stop allowing him to continue playing the game he loves.
“As an independent baseball player, I didn’t choose Lake Erie more so, they choose me,” Balkwill explained of signing with the Crushers in March. “I got in contact with the manager and had a quick conversation about roster rules and what my role could be and I was offered a contract. It was a no hesitation sign for me.”
While his immediate focus is on having a strong season when the game returns, Balkwill has already collected a lifetime of experiences and lessons learned through baseball.
“The game of baseball has taught me a lot about myself and what it takes to be a successful human,” the Chatham product said. “It has made me an overly positive person who doesn’t let things get me down. It also has taught me about work ethic and developing myself everyday. If you’re not getting better in baseball you’re getting worse. It has also taught me how to stay even keel; not to let the highs get you too high and the lows get you too low. Baseball is a tough game so you have to adapt or else you’ll fail.”
“I’ve failed many times but you can’t worry about failing again you just need to keep working and developing.”