Preparation wouldn't apply in the usual way to a game Justin Toole played in late August.
The Cleveland Indians minor leaguer was asked at the start of the season where he could play and he told his manager, Edwin Rodriguez, 'Anywhere'(MiLB.com). That reply wasn't so far from the truth, but aside from the challenge of playing positions he hadn't played in year, or had played very little, he had to prepare in a unique way on August 24th when he'd play all nine positions. He'd pitch in relief, a role that has it's own energy and physical/mental approach, beginning the night in right field, then center, then left field, then infield corners, then up the middle, to behind the plate, and finally, to the mound.
Toole looked at it as a fun experience, something he didn't take completely seriously when he'd first heard it. But after all was said and done (his Mudcats defeated Salem 4-2), he realized something bigger happened. As fun as it was, he'd faced a rare challenge. And it got him to thinking...
Toole, 25, published his book '9 in 9' on the experience, and shared the moment to moment details of the game. But the book (available on Amazon) is more than that. Part autobiography, self-help, inspirational manual, and part in-depth game story, the book offers inside information about the minor leagues and the pursuit of playing professionally.
Here's what Justin Toole told HHOTF about his book, his motivation, and his season overall.
"I'm close with a sports psychologist, and the idea started there. I majored in psychology and always wanted to find a way to share my message. I wanted to write a book, but this was a way to distinguish myself. Then I decided to make each chapter a different life lesson, with each position I played."
"I had about a week and a half's notice for the game. I was told I had to throw two BP's and catch two. Because each position was laid out in advance, there were no lingering questions."
"I hadn't pitched in a couple of years, but thinking like a pitcher helped me behind the plate. Catching went better than I imagined. The inning was actually the quickest of the night. That was the position I was most nervous about coming in, but I was excited for the challenge."
"Playing a game that is such a game of failure, working with [Mental Coach Brian Cain] has helped me keep things in perspective. There's so much more behind the stats. So he's helped me look at life and playing differently, by staying in the present. Take care of today first. That helps me in life as well as on the field."
"I didn't do so well in High-A this season, so when a player got injured and I was moved to Double-A, I took advantage of the opportunity. It was an up and down year, but I proved I could play at different levels. In terms of my confidence, it made a difference. I want to build on that heading into spring training."
"The game was just looked at as a fun team thing, but I didn't expect the attention it got. It blew up into a story. As the night went on, the crowd caught on to what was happening. That built the momentum. It was the loudest crowd. Looking back now, the final moments of the game were like slow motion."
Follow Justin Toole on Twitter @Tooleyj24.
He was a Carolina League Mid-Season All-Star this year, and made the 2013 MiLB Twitter Twenty, which you can find on this blog.