"Why players shouldn't hide injuries"*My personal story about a concussion I hid

On the television these days there is no shortage of injuries being displayed in the form of entertainment.  Many of us including myself love the sight of a big hit in the NFL where a player had his "bell rung".  As a former High School Head Coach injuries were matters I handled in conjunction with the expertise of trainers.  Baseball isn't like other high-contact sports in terms of career ending injury.  Nonetheless, some injuries will decrease the performance of players if not handled correctly by coaches, trainers, parents and the player themselves.  In this Pincer, I will discuss differences in hurt versus injured then share a personal story about hiding my symptoms from a concussion, and also dealing with other injuries.   Finally, I will encourage athletes of all ages not to handle it the same way. 

Hurting vs. Injured
Athletes put their bodies under daily stress to be the best they can be.  In many cases, the physical stress you know is a part of the deal much like opening a bank account will carry certain fees.  Most if not all of my baseball life I have had some soreness associated with throwing, running, or lifting weights.  There are some ailments you learn to handle.  For example, a sore arm that doesn't affect your normal velocity by a considerable amount is one you should play through.  On the flip side if you are throwing a baseball, and a shooting pain stops you from throwing freely, chances are you need to see your trainer for some care, that way you can give yourself the opportunity to perform at your best.  No athlete wants to feel like they are quitting on their team and themselves which is understandable but here's why you should give it more thought.  

Friend and former Co-Worker at IMG Academy Jean Troiano a Certified Athletic Trainer at Dartmouth College shares excellent information; 
 
Athletes face injuries in competition constantly and have to decide if it is something they can play through or not.  All too often athletes feel if they can handle the pain and compete through the weekend, they won’t be called soft or weak.  Unfortunately when fighting for a spot on a team many stay quiet and grind it out. When athletes do this to their bodies, they have to realize the consequences if they continue to play through injuries. The significant injury on everyone’s mind is concussions. Concussions are becoming more and more well-known across the country, the topic is arising in the news and media daily.  However, it has been a subject amongst researchers in the medical field and sports medicine world for some time.  Here is a list of the signs and symptoms I tell my athletes to look for with themselves and their teammates if ever involved in some collision, not just to their head but their body as well and to report to someone immediately; a headache, pressure in head, neck pain, balance problems or dizziness, nausea or vomiting, vision problems, hearing problems or ringing in the ear, “don’t feel right”, feeling “dinged or dazed”, confusion, feeling slowed down, drowsiness, fatigue or low energy, more emotional than usual, irritability, difficulty concentrating, difficulty remembering, sadness, nervous or anxious, sensitivity to light and sensitivity to noise.  I stress to my athletes that they may think these symptoms if only having a few isn't serious but if not treated appropriately it can inhibit them from daily life activities, prolong recovery and from playing the sport they love, so reporting is necessary.

My personal story

In 2008 after my return to the Milwaukee Brewers from the San Diego Padres in AAA, I was enjoying success quickly after my demotion.  I honestly believed within a few weeks I would return to the Big Leagues with the Milwaukee Brewers, the original organization with whom I began my career.  During a road trip in Oklahoma City playing against the Texas Rangers affiliate something very unfortunate happened, unfortunate in two ways.  But before I continue, let me make it very clear, my trainer at the time followed all protocols in place and did so thoroughly.  

My 1st at bat of the game I hit a double to left-field, and the left-fielder overthrew second base badly, and I made a dash for home.  What followed was a very close play at the plate; I dove head first and severely banged my head and immediately began to see stars.  In addition to this, I badly bruised my right wrist and wanted no part of leaving that game.   My athletic trainer began to check me for symptoms of a concussion which he started with a series of questions; 1st follow my finger, then what is my birthdate, and a few more test that I all passed.  What I failed to tell him were the stars immediately after impact hadn't gone away, and I promised him I was fine.  Next he checked my wrist; which hurt and again, I did some convincing that I could continue though I was in pain.  Throughout the course of that game, I was having difficulties with the lights.  My eyes had quickly become sensitive to them, but I battled through this issue.  I never had a concussion, and this was the problem.   I said to myself I got my bell rung, and this feeling will go away, but it didn't.  A few days later I began rehab for a severely brushed wrist in De Moises, Iowa, and my focus was getting my wrist healthy enough to get back out on the field.  Still very achy after a couple days but wanting badly to get back on the baseball field, I told my trainer I was ready.  My wrist was still very much an issue; the light sensitivity remained, and I stayed quiet.  My perspective was, there is no way this will last and what can anyone do?  Oh, by the way, I failed to mention while still a member of the San Diego Padres I started to develop soreness in my throwing arm and after this very same slide, it turned into bicep tendinitis, which finally landed me on the DL for the 1st time in my career!!!

Not much longer after the wrist, shoulder, and the blow to the head in Oklahoma City,  I caught chicken pox for the first time in my life from a teammate who had the shingles.  The chicken pox landed me on the DL for some 10-14 days; I don't know if any of you has had the chicken pox as an adult, but it has to be one of the worst non-life threaten illnesses to get.  For ten of those days, I couldn't handle any light what so ever, I was experiencing the worst migraines headaches and would sit on the floor of my bedroom in Franklin, TN afraid to move.  Though these symptoms accompanied the chicken pox, I was already dealing with the light sensitivity.  That summer I managed to hit .270 much to do with girth, but my symptoms from the blow with light sensitivity continued.... 

Major League Spring Training 2009

The following spring I received a Major League invite to the Seattle Mariners spring training camp and wasn't healthy at all.  That off-season I turned down an excellent winter ball contract in the Dominican because of my shoulder.  My shoulder remained injured, and my bicep tendinitis wouldn't go away for nothing; I tried acupuncture, stretching, icing, massage, shoulder exercises, but nothing worked.  At this point during the off-season, my issues with lights lessened some but my shoulder was the most physical issue I could feel, so I focused on that.  Ultimately, my shoulder issue came to the surface that spring and a demotion to Minor League camp followed, but my biggest issue was my inability to coordinate myself with bright lighting.  During hit and run drills that spring in front of Major League staff I was swinging and repeatedly missing while hitting against a pitching machine on a very bright sunny Arizona spring day.   But I still ignored, refused, or accepted what happened that previous year.  I made the simplest of errors defensively, and I quickly began to lose confidence in my abilities, and the tailspin didn't stop.   Knee tendinitis that same year didn't help and for the better part of 2 1/2 years, I was a shell of the player I once was.  Please take a look at my stats from 2009-2010 in baseball reference, this experience can explain the very sharp decline in performance, click the link and take a look at 2009-2010; http://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.cgi?id=crabbe001cal.  I started my search in 2009 first with Optometrist Doug Nikaitani Mariners vision specialist, someone responsible for Edgar Martinez's success back in the day.  Then in 2010 I spoke to a Blue Jays trainer about my vision issues as well and saw an eye doctor.  The conclusion from the Doc; I was stressed, and he prescribed Nike red tinted contacts that helped some but didn't cure it.  In 2011, things changed with the light sensitivity, and I got help with my vision issues from Blue Jays vision doctor Dr. Bill Harrison "Owner of www.Slowthegame.com.  Dr. Harrison retrained my eyes to focus and thankfully during this time light sensitivity issues were gone.  I won't go into every detail, but by the time I could recover, my status as a pro had changed, and it had everything to do with my lack of performance over a 3-year span.  I jokingly said to my wife a few days ago, I should try out this year, and her response was I will drive you there.  What if I would have been open about my light sensitivity?  Would it have changed the outcome? Would I still be playing?  That's the problem with not handling the issue correctly; I will never find out, and I don't want another young person to miss out on a chance to get help from any injury.  Handle it right away, and you will have a much better chance to have time work for you.

 A message to players and parents

Dr. Jamie Burnett, 
Chiropractic Physician
Performance Health and Rehab


Pretending to be healthy, when something is hurting almost always leads a      small problem turning into a much larger problem. For example, a minor knee strain or sprain could turn into a full-blown, season-ending ACL injury if it is not properly rehabbed and healed. Even more severe, collisions can cause concussions.   If a concussion is not treated properly, it could be life threatening. These small pains and strains are meant to be warning signs that something is not right. Most often, it is a mechanical problem that a coach or specialist can help the athlete correct.  Some injuries are unpreventable; however most injuries can be prevented.  The best way to prevent injuries is by working with a professional. It can be a strength coach, a specialist, a therapist, or someone who is an expert at your sport. A Preventive program can be implemented to build a solid foundation so that you can develop the skills necessary for your sport and prevent injuries.

Don't be afraid to speak up, you aren't weak, you are just smart!!!

Good Luck!!!!

 

What it feel like to get 1st Major League Hit

Who doesn't want to join history
 

In 2008, I made my MLB debut with the San Diego Padres after my 1st Major League spring training and I was a long shot to make the Padres roster with the status of being a Rule Five Selection.  In most cases, players selected in the Rule Five draft have a hard time cracking the opening day roster, due to their lack of MLB experience.  That Spring Training I had 68 plate appearances and a stat line of; .309 average, 21 base hits, and played every position minus catcher, pitcher and 1st base.  I treated that spring training like my only chance to become a major leaguer and I did.   I performed out of my mind and my only thought was to carry that momentum right into the regular season, which meant I wanted to become part of MLB history and that was to hit a home run in my 1st Major League at bat!  

1st Major League at Bat

Let me give everyone a sense of what it feels like to have your very own 1st Major League at bat. For a moment, imagine it's you.  It's opening day and there are 38,000 people in the stands and they are ready to see you play.  The Stadium is electric! People are calling your name, asking for autographs, and can't wait to see you get a chance to officially become a Major Leaguer.  The Houston Astros are in town and perennial All-Star Roy Oswalt is the starting pitcher.  He throws 95+ and you really want a chance to face him.   You aren't in the starting lineup, and you have more electricity pumping through your body than the empire state building.  After 7 innings of baseball, it doesn’t look like you will get in that night.   Another day comes and goes which yields the same result, no game action.  It's Day 3 in the big leagues and on April 3rd, 2008 you get the call to pinch hit.  For a moment, your heart rate takes off like an F-15 fighter jet, from 70 beats to 200 beats in a half a second.  You calm yourself down enough to walk up to home plate with the goal in mind, hit a home run your 1st official at bat. At the time, it only happened 95 times in history. Your name is announced as you're walking up to home plate, the fans recognize it's your Major League debut and lucky for you, it's in front of the home crowd.  You proceed with your usual routine, then the pitcher delivers a pitch and it's right where you want it, middle in and you TAKE IT!!!!  Strike one, you mutter damn it, why didn't you swing.  You quickly regroup for the next pitch.  He winds up and you take a nice swing and smoke a ball the other way deep, deep to the warning track!!!!!  No home run but you are officially a Major Leaguer and history still made!   You are now the 16,876th player to play Major League Baseball.

City of San Fransisco and my Last name

After a 7 game home stand to start the season and only 1 pinch hit appearance, we head north to San Fransisco for a 4 game series against the Giants.  Anyone who has been to San Fransisco early in the year knows it can get really cold at night.  This night game is freezing and a terrific game at that and I get the sense I am getting in tonight.  It's a 1-1 game for most of the night, then 2-2 into the 9th inning.  Bottom of the 9th; I get called upon to play left-field for defense, which is my very 1st defensive action as a big leaguer. I hustle out to left-field, sprinting as fast as I could to stay warm because it was freezing.  Before I could even begin playing catch, a few college students yell out; hey everyone we got a new guy out here and his last name is Crabbe!  And of course, they begin to heckle me, first 4 people, then 50, then 3,000 people start screaming you got STD's, and it continues "You got Crabs, STD's, you got Crabs" and on and on. Then a fly ball hits in the air and I take off back towards the left field fence and the short-stop catches the ball in the infield!!! I totally misjudged it because of nerves (lLOL). Inning over, I take a deep breath and remind myself it's time to get my 1st Major League hit.

My first hit

To this day when I recall this moment, my heart immediately begins to fill with joy.  Bottom of the 10th 2-2 game, freezing cold and please click the link,  no need to explain.  My 1st Big League hit.  Many have never seen this!

"Be You"

Organic has value

Who doesn't love when they get a chance to be themselves?  Yet it's one of the most difficult concepts for most to act upon. Our society has a way of telling us how we should act in order for others to like us.  Unfortunately, being organic, you in true form comes with a risk. A risk of being denied, not accepted, but allowing yourself to be vulnerable can open new doors and opportunities.

Get outside your comfort zone

I am grateful for the foundation of my life, which for me was public housing.  I must say I was more fortunate than others I grew up with. During my childhood, I was exposed to another world at a crucial time in my life.  This was the timeframe when I was bullied badly and it was then, luckily that a new friend came into my life.  There was a kid named Seth Farrelly on my little league team, someone who was encouraging to all of his teammates. Seth is the grandson of a former Virgin Islands Governor Alexander A. Farrelly and someone I befriended during little league. We both supported each other in different ways. I would sleep over at his house from time to time, we would zip line, competitively play video games, and his mother would make the best homemade cheese pizza I have ever had, she even topped them off with fresh hand-picked basil.  His family welcomed me in with open arms and loved me even when they didn't have to.  Early on, they taught me that support can come from outside of your world and gave me hope that I wouldn't have to play this game of life alone. This is important for young kids to truly grasp, blessingsrarely come in the form we expect.

Importance of being you

In 2003, while hitting at my former hitting instructor's facility in Acworth, GA, a young 8-year-old boy named Zach Deboy was getting a hitting lesson with CJ Stewart. I was in the far batting cage working on some drills with my usual very intense focus. I felt someone watching me and when I turned to look, I see this country looking white guy staring at me intently. I took a break and we engaged in small talk about where I was currently playing, what team I was playing for and continued assuring me about how he sees untapped potential in me.  My instinct told me this man was genuine and simply wanted to wish me the best.  Then I do what I do best, I talked to him like we had been friends for 20 years. He later gave me his business card and told me if I needed any help, to give him a call.  Roger Deboy and CJ became good friends, so naturally I became friends with Roger as well.  In 2004, I was in need of an off-season job. I mentioned something briefly to Roger and before I knew it, he landed me a job as a laborer at one of his job sites.  It was the best two years of my life working in construction. I learned how to drive bobcats, operate small lifts and put my time in sweeping a lot of floors. During this time, I was in need of a place to live close by to where I trained. I later took up residence in a warehouse next to the job site.  That warehouse had a tiny little office that looked built for a little elf, so it was perfect for me.  It was also located directly across from CJ's batting cages.  This is where I spent my time hitting when I couldn't sleep in the warehouse, I swear that place had ghosts!!  At 3 am in the morning I would be hitting balls off an iron mike machine or a batting tee always reminding myself, one day I will play in the Major Leagues.  In 2005, Roger invited me to live with his family and I quickly took up his offer.  I spent 4 years living with Pam, Roger, and Zach and it was an amazing four years.  When I reflect back on the most inspirational periods of my life and how they all began, they all stem back to allowing myself to be vulnerable and not running from fear. I chose to be vulnerable, and I got help! 

Trust is a must

My understanding about trust has expanded due to many years playing baseball, so this understanding has evolved, but it's absolutely necessary to live your true potential.  In order for any of us to be really good at something, we have to completely believe in what we are doing.  In baseball if you believe, you tend to achieve.  As an 18-year-old sophomore in college when I first started dating Amanda, who later became my wife, it was difficult to be myself. We are taught our whole lives to change who we are so others will like us. I didn't know what impressed her, so initially I put on a facade.  Thankfully, I quickly realized that what she valued was who I was in my natural form.  She enjoyed my energetic personality, my true love for life, my creative mind, and in the end I won.  Now we have two beautiful kids, a loving marriage, and we continue to grow daily!  This is a very important concept for young kids, young adults, and even adults to understand.  We perform best when we are true to ourselves.  Let's have a moment of reflection, think about your first day of school, first game, first business deal or first kiss.  Were you nervous?  I am sure you were initially but what happened when you relaxed and trusted yourself?  I bet you made it out alive; so be you!!!!  
 

How to create your reality

Have a dream with a purpose

Think about the most successful people you know.  Then juxtapose their happiness and purpose in life.  The most successful individuals aren't always the happiest and I wonder if it's due to a dream that has no defined purpose.  I believe God created dreams so we are always moving towards our reasons for existence.  I had many battles early in life.  I was bullied badly, so badly once I was hit with a beer bottle while walking home from school in the 6th grade for no reason.  Yet I remained optimistic about my future.  Guess what keep me positive? A DREAM to inspire an Island by playing Major League Baseball.  

Guard your mind against dream wreckers and get connected with like minds

Throughout my entire life, I have been connecting with others who share similar traits.  I believe it's due to my commitment to living my purpose.  When you are moving towards your destiny, God provides the support. This is why you won't and can't fail.  He provides like minds!  These are the individuals who view life like you.  Here are a few names to support my theory; R-City (Songwriters and Singers), Delayno Brown (Reggae Artist and songwriter), CJ Stewart (L.E.A.D and Diamond Directors Baseball), Kelli Steward (Executive Director of L.E.A.D), Karese Roberts (business owner Kakes by Karese), Roger Deboy (Construction Management), Brian McCann (MLB All Star), Micah Owings (MLB player and Entrepreneur), Tim Raines Jr. (Retired MLB player and IMG Coach), Chone Figgins (Retired baseball player and fellow golf nut), Phil Wallin (Diesel Fitness Co-owner and performance specialist), and my immediate family.  There are more names only the list would be too long.  Everyone above had dreams and they came true.  So guard your heart and mind against those dream wreckers; if someone tells you can't do something, say ok let me find out for myself! 

Get out of the incorrect environment and build momentum

If you are in an office, house, or environment which leads you to believe its too hard or you can't do it, move on and try to find like minds who will encourage your movement.   A movement begins when you take a stance to stand alone and believe in you!  In time you will have one follower, then two, then three and then you are an inspiration!!!  Let me share a small story; around this time last year I ran into a scout who noticed me coaching my high school team at IMG Academy.  He said you know Callix, I told everyone you were only going to play one year of Minor League Ball and be done.  Guess how I responded?  I said thank you, you were the very reason I made it!!!  And to keep it coming because there is more on the way!  There will be people you come in contact with who will say you can't do it, you know what to say to them?  I damn well sure want to find out!!!  So dream of whatever you want that is positive and purpose driving and charge onward with passion. This is how you create momentum!!!  If you are unhappy and want to be happy do what Nike says "Just do it"

Go all the way in

I believe if you want something in life there is only one way you can do it and that's going all the way in!  In 2012 when I decided my baseball playing days were over, I picked up the game of golf. I needed something to ease the transition from baseball.  A goal was set to become a scratch player which is a zero handicap on any golf course played.  I might not be a scratch golfer just yet but guess what my handicap is? 9.3 without a lot of rounds.  Guess how I made that happen?  I set small attainable goals and attacked the game from every angle.  For 3 years at IMG Academy I religiously practiced, read books and played whenever my schedule allowed.  Many people said it's the golf bug; you know what I said? Nope; I have a dream, which meant I have to go all the way in.   At the moment, my quest for scratch is on hold due to a more important goal.   Once I resume this quest I will show you my zero handicap index.  

I dreamt about getting hits off of Randy Johnson and when I faced him it felt like Deja Vu

One of my greatest attributes happens to be my ability to conjure up dreams. LOL. As a young boy, I had two very important friends who helped to create my dream of Major League Baseball; Akeem Francis and Kishon Herbert both supported me in the infancy.   We didn't practice on actual fields all the time, but we did so under our buildings with rocks, bottle caps, and broomsticks.  The name of our field was the Brown Monster our replica of the Green Monster.  I really wish I had a photo of it, but I don't.  We had many at-bats against Randy Johnson.  Like all the time and I was very successful against Randy Johnson from the ages of 9-12.  I couldn't get out.  In 2008 guess who I faced while in the big leagues with San Deigo?  Yup; Randy Johnson the Hall of Famer.  Take a look at his career stat line; 

W     L     w-l% era.                                                     hits                                                 303166.6463.2961860371003724135.13346170315134111497374875190
 

Randy Johnson is one of the greatest pitchers of all time and someone I am super proud to say I faced while a Major Leaguer.  You see the 3,346 hits he gave up?  I had two.  You see the 4,875 strikeouts he had?  I had none!  You see the 3.29 era?  I had two rbi's against him.  And both were earned. Lastly, I was 1 of the 190 hits batter he had.  And he called me a little piece of sh** because I didn't get out the way.  Final numbers against Randy Johnson 2 for 3, 2 rbi's, 1 double, 1 HBP, and 1 called a piece of sh**.  One of my greatest moments in the big leagues felt like Deja vu all because I used imagery.  So the next time somebody tells you to wake up and smell the roses, tell them no; I don't like the way yours smell!!!

Please copy and paste the link below into your browser to see my reality!
 

https://vimeo.com/139081995

Pincer Mondays "Inspired by my father's illness"

A special man
My previous pincer story chronicled my love for the Atlanta Braves. That love was fostered by TBS and my father Elvin Crabbe Sr., a strong-willed, self-proclaimed encyclopedia.  My childhood memories with him are filled with lots of playing catch and musical tunes.  He was passionate about many things; baseball and music are the two I remember easily.  He loved music!!!  Let me paint a picture for you; envision a staircase with metal railings leading to your yard.  Then you throwing little pebbles at that railing and hitting it.  Now able to call with an absolute certainty what musical notes was echoing from that hit. He was able to do this along with many other talents.  Let me name a few more; he was a mechanic, threw ambidextrously, switched hit, could fix TV’s and still remains very funny to this day.  Hopefully, this gives everyone and idea of his unique abilities. He has also dealt with schizophrenia most of his life.  

Early childhood with him
The early parts of my life, I called a public housing complex named “Warren E. Brown” home.  This complex sat up on a hillside overlooking Charlotte Amalie High School; the high school I later attended for my freshmen and sophomore years before heading stateside.   My dad informed one of his good friends Sam Daly, he was bringing his baby boy to play for his little league team the "Rebels." Sam was a local photographer and taxi cab driver whose teams was known for being good. I bet Sam was skeptical at first-because several years earlier my dad brought one of my older brothers Junior to play for his team which didn't go well.  Junior wasn’t very good at all and really didn’t like baseball; he currently works for Bank of America, and his talent is numbers!!! (LOL)  God blessed me with Sam, he was one of those coaches we all hoped to play for.  He was the type that genuinely cared for his players, and did everything to see them develop.  Sam is the coach responsible for my overly positive attitude towards baseball.  This is the power of positive coaching!  Now back unto my dad, when I was physically able to play catch we did so often.  At least 4 days a week for 30 minutes we played catch.  He taught me early on that in order to get really good at something like baseball; I had to do it all the time.  He was the 1st person to instill that principal of work ethic, which cultivated that relentless charge for what I wanted to do for the rest of my life...BASEBALL

He passed along some great qualities
Those who grew up with me can attest to my overwhelming passion to include baseball in every aspect of my life.  We've heard coaches say you have to eat, sleep and sh** baseball.  I totally did!!! I developed a system for practice right under my building.  I improved my hand/eye coordination by hitting stones and bottle caps with my mothers broomsticks.  I even made her buy dry popcorn seeds to work on my hitting; putting them in my mouth to spit and hit.   Why tell you this? To let you know, I was paying attention to a father who did things which seemed to be idiosyncratic to others.  I was merely paying attention to his creativity and lack of care for how others viewed him.  This is the attitude I have taken most of my life thanks to him. 

One of the scariest nights of my life   
His most difficult bouts with schizophrenia happened before my existence which meant I didn't see much of his darkest moments.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t spared from all. He came upon some difficult times with his illness and became unstable. One night my mother, sister and I were watching Television and heard a loud commotion taking place outside our front door.  30 minutes prior to this incident he was attempting to get in the apartment but my mother wouldn’t let him due to his instability at the moment.  My mother hurried to the door and found my father in a tussle with two police officers.  One of them actually knew of his issues.  This officer wasn't a great man and could care less about his illness.  My sister and I rushed to our mother’s side. She was screaming don’t kill him, please don’t kill him, he is sick.  Both officers had already drawn their firearms; one had his weapon to my father’s abdomen and the other to his head.  To this day, that experience has never left my mind.  Thank God the officers listened to my mother's cry and didn’t harm him. 

He inspired me to always walk with a purpose
My dad had a way of moving with a purpose although others didn't understand what that purpose was.  I can recall moments of him walking long distances to get where he wanted to go, in a collared shirt, khaki pants, and all white Reebok tennis shoes. The Bottom line, if he had somewhere to go and couldn't get a ride, he would just GO!  There is no greater example of this than when I was 6 years of age.  Unfortunately, I was stuck by a car and broke my leg.  A short time after getting my cast removed he made me walk 5 long miles with weak legs because he had somewhere important to GO.   Here is a funny story inspired by him; 9 years later while playing for a travel team and about to attend a CABA world series in Dallas,TX my sister who I lived with told me I couldn't go.  At the moment, she couldn't afford it.  I wish I could find that World Series ring we won, to show you I got there. "LOL,"  Sorry Afia something told me to GO!!! * (Many thanks to Mr. Owings for letting me crash with them and thanks for feeding me) This is the trait I probably admire most about my dad and paid the closest attention to.  He always moved with a purpose!

Don’t let a family issue stop you, find the positives!!!
Why tell this story?  It’s not for anyone to feel sympathy for my dad or family, but to inspire others who have faced or currently dealing with similar matters.  If anyone in your family has issues like alcoholism, depression, anger management, or my case schizophrenia I encourage them to not dwell on those matters.  I recommend taking a deep breath and think it can always be worst.  Maybe learn something from them!!! Try not to play the victim because the real victim is the one who needs your help. By the way, he wasn’t so mentally ill after all.  He said his son was going to play MLB baseball and he did!!!!!

My Biggest Disappointment in Baseball Was Still a Dream Come True!!!!

As a boy, I had one thing on my mind and that was baseball.  Growing up in St.Thomas, U.S.V.I in the 1990s, it was easy to fall in love with the Atlanta Braves.  Names like John Smoltz, Rafael Billiard, Otis Nixon, Greg Maddux, Chipper Jones, David Justice, and Tom Glavine come to mind very easily. In my household I was the benefactor of being the last child, which we all know comes with several advantages. So I always won the television.  With access to TBS on cable, naturally I became an Atlanta Braves fan and only dreamed of wearing a Braves uniform.  Terry Pendleton was my inspiration to become a switch hitter so I often pretended to be him any time I had a bat in my hands.  Though it took many years to become a switch hitter, my admiration for Mr. Pendleton, and my love for the Atlanta Braves only grew stronger.  After much prayer and my relentless begging, my mother allowed the move to Stone Mountain, GA. A mere 25 minutes from Atlanta’s Turner Field. 
 
High School in Georgia
I arrived at Stone Mountain High School a program not known for strong baseball.  Immediately I met a friend who got me placed on a travel team with Brandon Phillips (MLB All-Star) and many others solid players.  I was primed for success living in the perfect area for high school baseball.  Later that year by the grace of God I was introduced to a travel organization named the Gwinnett Tigers a club out of Duluth,Ga.  I found myself on a team that would feature 3 future major leaguers; Micah Owings, Brian McCann and myself.  Not to be forgotten was Brad Mccann Brian’s older brother an absolute stud who went on to star at Clemson University, and later play in the Florida Marlins Minor League System.  Matt Handley our best pitcher at the time was also a stud, sorry Micah.  We all had dreams of playing Major League baseball and shared that often.  After two years of high school baseball I had a good idea I would get drafted.  A scout named Rob English got me an invitation to the Braves Pre Draft workout just before the 2000 draft.  Let’s just say; I have never been so excited in my life!   I pretty much told everyone at my school the Atlanta Braves loved me, and was going to draft me.  Never mind I had no idea .LOL.   On 6/10/2000 I received a call saying congratulations you were selected by the Atlanta Braves as the 970th player in the MLB Draft by Rob English.  I said in my head "yes" I was a millionaire. "lol"  Several days later I was told they wanted to follow me at Young Harris College and give me a shot later if I had developed.  I never played for the Atlanta Braves but my dream to play at Turner Field remained!

8 Years later
After 6 years in the Milwaukee Brewers Minor League system I was selected in the MLB Rule 5 draft, a draft designed to give players left unprotected from a major league roster a shot at the Big Leagues. In 2008 I went to Padres spring training a long shot to make the 25 man roster, and after a strong spring I made that team.  The day Buddy Black told me I was going to be a Major League Player I cried tears of joy.  One of my greatest days to date is calling my mother and telling her I was going to be a MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL PLAYER.   On 5/5/2008 after much anticipation I made my trip to Turner Field and guess what I did?  I cried like a baby and no one knew it!!!! My dream came true, I was about to step foot on Turner Field as a major leaguer.  My greatest mentors, friends and family finally got the chance to see me live my dream at Turner Field!!!! Names like Chipper Jones, John Smoltz, Brian McCann and Mark Teixeira were Atlanta Braves.  Guess what?  Greg Maddux was my teammate pretty crazy stuff!!!!  Dream come true?  I still hadn’t played on the field yet.
 
Finally got my chance.
First game of the 3 game set; I get no action.  A pinch-hit appearance the second night.  I walked up to home plate and guess who is catching?  Brian McCann, my friend who had a huge part in making my dream a reality.  I arrive at home plate and Brian says; Callix how cool is this.   I answer back; dude its sick!!!  The pitcher is Manny Acosta a reliever I faced at least a dozen times in the Minor Leagues; someone I hit well.   First pitch, right down the middle but I took it because I was leading off the inning.  No worries I reminded myself; saying I am about to go big fly.   Second pitch; he throws a nice sinker, and I swung out of my size 10 shoes hitting the weakest ground ball of my life to Mark Teixeira.  Da** it, I say out loud! I got one more day.
 
My last time stepping foot on a Major League Field in Game Action
I show up to the park early hoping to be in the starting line up.  Buddy Black on other occasions let me know if I was starting the next day but didn't do so this time.  No line up was posted early that morning.  After 30 mins in the batting cages; I enter the locker room and to my liking a lineup posted 1) Brian Giles RF2) Callix Crabbe 2B.  Heart rate elevates immediately!  I get out there early living my dream; signing autographs, quickly chatting with friends, and living it up!  Oh my goodness I never had so much adrenaline pumping in my body!!!  I am trying to act cool but dude I am wired like a Starbucks coffee with 16 shots of espresso!!! By the way at the time I didn’t drink much coffee and didn’t drink any that day! First pitch 1:05pm. First at bat; base on balls and scored a run.  First defensive inning; 1st play of the game Yunel Escobar hits a slow roller; I make a barehanded play.  Guess what?  My throw is a little too far right.  Ball goes in the dugout, and he advances to second base on my throwing error!  Oh god this can’t be happening; I said to myself.  Six innings go by and we are winning 4-1.  Atlanta Braves outfielder Matt Diaz hits a cue shot to second base which is coming to me like a squirrel running away from a dog and its goes right through my legs.  Error # 2.  The Braves score 4 runs over the next few innings; 3 of which happened right after error #2.  We lost 5-4.  I go 0-4 with a walk, run scored and 1 line out to Chipper Jones.  Padres record 12-23.  
 
5/11/2008
After a quick 3 game home series against the Colorado Rockies, while packing my bags to head to Chicago’s Wrigley Field I get a squeeze on my shoulder saying Callix; Buddy needs to see you. I turn around and its one of the clubhouse attendants.  My heart stops beating I know my time in the big leagues has come to an end.  Team departs for Chicago and I never step foot on a MLB field again.
 
Dreams come true, just not with the ending we want.
Why I tell this story?  Because I want to inspire a young generation of athletes to not let anyone put unnecessary pressure on them.  Including themselves!!!!  We have a way in our culture of defining success based on accolades or a big bank account.  I believe this is harming our young athletes.  This belief is just an illusion.  Michael Jordan said” “Never say never, because limits, like fears, are often just an illusion.”  Today’s worldly definition of success is an illusion!  It’s very easy for young kids to have the image of MVP awards, world cup victories, grand slams, or national titles to feel successful.  Success for some is daring to chase after their dreams even if that outcome isn't exactly what they hoped for.  There are far greater lessons learned chasing a dream than not chasing one.  You know what my success is?  Daring to believe in a dream many said I was crazy for believing in.  I am one of very few to make it to the Major Leagues from the US Virgin Islands which is great, but daring to try was even greater!!!!