On June 21, the Detroit Tigers were engaged in a tie ballgame going into extra innings. In the bottom of the 10th inning, the Tigers loaded the bases and the next batter was rookie Quintin Berry. He hit a clutch bases-loaded bouncer into center field, giving the Tigers the win. This was the Tigers' second victory during a three-game interleague series against the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Tigers are making a move in the American League in which they are currently two games behind Cleveland Indians for first place. The Tigers have closed the gap from five games to two and could challenge for first place within the coming weeks.
More importantly, the progression of Berry into the Tigers roster is a great story. Being drafted in 2006 by the Philadelphia Phillies, Berry spent the next seven seasons in the minor leagues with eight different teams. Chances of reaching the majors are dramatically reduced the longer you play in the minor leagues; a recent stat shows that a person has a 1-in-11,437 chance of reaching the show.
In the minors, he worked on his fundamental skills, such as base running and bunting technique. His improvement is seen in his minor league statistics. In the minor leagues, Berry had a total of 261 stolen bases, being thrown out 61 times. He had 561 strikeouts and a batting average of .267. Berry constantly worked on his speed, knowing that that someday he would fit into a major league team. The Tigers needed a leadoff hitter when Austin Jackson went on the 15-day disabled list with an abdominal injury. In his first major league game as leadoff batter, Berry hit a double. With the concerted focus on fundamentals and improved base running skills, Berry would take the Tigers' clubhouse by storm.
I have enjoyed watching Berry progress in his 29 games in the majors. One aspect that Berry adds is a new dynamic to the Tigers' offense -- the speed on the base paths. Berry is 11-for-11 in stolen base attempts since he was called up. With a fast base runner on base, an opposing pitcher has to mentally take note of the runner and this can make the pitcher lose focus on the batter. While Berry, at times swings at poor pitches and needs to work on striking out less, his rise into professional baseball is an inspiration for all fans of the game.
Unwavering dedication to one's dream speaks volumes to me because when I am tired and feel like giving up, success may be just around the corner. I'm sure Berry often felt like quitting. Follow Berry's example that with hard work and perseverance anything is possible.
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