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!!!!