In June 1975 I was drafted and signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates. All the years of practice and hard work had paid off. I reached one of my goals, to be a part of a Major League Organization.
I could not help but think of the help I received by watching and studying my favorite player of the era, Tom Seaver, the great pitcher of the New York Mets. Seaver always talked about the importance of training and attention to perfecting his pitching mechanics. I listened and tried to do the same. Working diligently at my skills I was able to start to pitch like the pros.
This week marks the 40th anniversary of my first spring training with the Pirates in Bradenton Florida. Our training site was Pirate City. I remember how excited my family, my future wife - MaryAnn and I were when I prepared to attend training camp. The anticipation of training with major leaguers was an awesome experience and a dream fulfilled.
As I said, Tom Seaver served as my mentor, via TV, as he pitched and then at the end of the games would discuss his philosophy and mechanics on the Mets post game, "Kiner’s Korner."
Seaver said his success was a combination of hard work, dedication and attention to perfecting his pitching form. That became my approach, so I began to practice his techniques.
I would repeat my mechanics in front of a mirror and on the ball field until I thought they were perfect. The results of my work ethic started to pay off.
During my first Spring Training in 1976 I got to meet some of the Pirate greats, such as, Willie Stargell, Dave Parker, Bill Robinson, and Manny Sanguillen. Stargell and Sanguillen took the time to tell me that they were impressed with my mechanics and smooth arm action. I was elated to receive such a high praise from such outstanding members of the Pirates Family. To me, it was an honor that they recognized my hard work. I could not help but think of the valuable lessons I learned as a young ball player from watching and listening to Tom Seaver.
Today, my son Rob and I continue to teach the message of Tom Seaver at our baseball/softball academy, Big League Talent. Like myself, Rob too achieved one of his goals by being drafted in 2004 by the Oakland A’s and played in their organization for 4 years. Then a year each with the Yankees & Astros in 2008 & 2009 respectively, and still today he continues his quest to play in the Big Leagues.
Spring Training is an awesome time of year for a baseball player. As the saying goes, “Hope springs eternal.” My hope to play in the Majors began then in 1976 and I still remember that time was made possible because of the lessons I learned from Tom Seaver. His message of attention to detail, training hard and believing in yourself still resonates today.
Thank you for allowing me to share this memory! Spring training is a special time for the Semeranos. But all year is a blessing because we still continue to do what we love and have passion for and we get to make a difference in the lives of others as they pursue their dreams, just as Tom Seaver did for me!
Coach Bob Semerano