Our Independent Baseball hopeful Paul LeBoeuf, joined Tom in an email Q&A. He talked about how he started playing baseball and some of the obstacles he has to face if he’s going to make it back into the leagues.
Paul has been documenting his comeback with us, read Paul’s previous posts from the series of “Indy Ball Dream”, starting here.
Paul, what first attracted you to baseball? Was it something you played with your dad, friends, school?
I know that I started playing ‘tee ball’ at age 5 but I honestly can’t remember why I started playing. I’m not sure if it’s something I wanted or if my parents just put me there. I do remember not liking it and whining a lot about wanting to quit, haha. My mom kept me playing though and I’m glad I stuck with it.
My first real baseball memory though was from age 10. It was my first game of the season and I was playing right field. A ball was hit and falling fast. I ran in and made a sliding catch and everyone went wild. I didn’t have the greatest childhood and praise was often not on the menu, but at this moment people were cheering for me. I instantly fell in love with the game. It is one of the few good childhood memories that I’ve carried on into adulthood. I can still feel the excitement I felt that day.
That’s very interesting. I seem to remember having a similar defining moment as a child playing football (soccer). Continuing on from those memories, do you remember your first big win or championship?
I’ll tell you what. I played baseball from age 5 – 18 and a half season since and never have been part of a Championship team. Came close twice though. Once while playing in the ‘Babe Ruth League’. We played in a best of 3 series and lost 2 games to 1. My next chance came about 7 years ago in a local summer league. I joined halfway through the season and we got to the title game. I struck out to end the game and our season. That has been one of the reasons I so badly want to play ball again. There is no way I’m letting that be my last memory of baseball.
That’s shocking! I can almost relate, as I only managed one title in my 18 years of playing football! I suppose that makes winning all the more special.
Speaking of your attempt to play again, what’s the latest news? How far into training are you and when does the season begin?
Well the seasons for Indy Ball typically start around May/June. I plan on hitting up a handful of individual team tryouts around then. Next season is when I’ll really be kicking things into gear as I’ll be attending the longer tryout camps. So far the plan is to go to the Empire and Pecos League camps.
My fiancée and I agreed that I could try for two years so that’s my timetable. Unfortunately trying to play Independent baseball requires money. You have to pay for each tryout and camp. I have to be respectful of my family duties along with trying to play ball. That is why I’m taking a slower approach this year and then I’ll let loose in year 2.
Training is going well. I’ve been focusing on getting my “baseball legs” back under me. Now that the weather is getting better, I’ll finally be able to get outside and get my running in. I also plan on joining a couple local leagues to get some playing time in. Things will be picking up now and my life will be more baseball concentrated moving forward.
Such an understanding fiancée, which I suppose you have to have when you’re attempting something like this.
We’ve spoken about this privately and I think our readers would appreciate knowing how you fit baseball into a day that includes work and being a father?
Well it’s not easy at all. During the week I basically fit it in where I can. Weekends I’m good to go though. Sometimes I get lucky and can get both the kids to nap at the same time. Just yesterday I got a solid workout in because of that. Today though, they just wouldn’t sync up. I adjust to whatever time I’m given which can be frustrating when it gets cut short. I spend a lot of time on the floor with them so I constantly sneak in stretches or push-ups. My boy loves to run so sometimes we will do some sprints down the hall of our building.
This has been my biggest struggle so far and I know that I need to find a better system. I’m leaning towards maybe an early morning workout time. It’s just hard because I work 4 – midnight and usually don’t fall asleep till 2am. But then again, I’m willing to sacrifice some sleep if it helps me with my end goal of playing all.
As important as those two paragraphs are, that final sentence is what I wanted our readers to see. It really shows how dedicated you are to this, trying to raise a family, work a late shift and play baseball.
So, let’s talk about on the field. What positions can you play, what position would you prefer to play and what position would you accept?
I am a full blooded third baseman. The “hot corner” is where it’s at. I was always really good defensively and I think I never had an error in high school. I’ve played second base and also used to pitch. I won’t be pitching anytime soon but third or second would be my top choices.
My absolute perfect scenario would be to play third base during a night game. I’ve never experienced playing under the lights and I’ve wanted it since I was a kid. When it comes down to it though, I’d play wherever the team needed me to. I’m a team guy and that comes first. Win or lose, it’s about the team, hands down.
Do you see yourself as a contact guy? Power hitter? Defence first?
Defense was my first love. I think it had something to do with that little league catch that started it all. It’s an amazing adrenaline rush when people cheer you on for a good defensive play. As far as hitting, always been better as a contact guy. I’d love to increase the power a bit but I see more value in putting the ball in play in as many scenarios as possible. Homeruns are great but I believe in “small ball.”
So we should expect a .290 AVG with 30 stolen bases this year?
So we know how you got here, we know why you love the game, we know the sort of player you are. Give it to us, the percentage chance of if you make it into Indy Ball or not.
I’d like to hit at least .300, ha. Good question about my percentage. I think I have a shot. Although I was a bit concerned because I recently read about a new law about to be signed which will affect players from Minor Leagues and Independent ball. It sets “minimum wage” standards which is bad for some of the lower leagues. They won’t be able to afford keeping their leagues going. It’s a very real possibility that they will shut down.
The leagues that I would have the best shot at, would be gone. So, less teams means more available players. More players means less opportunities for guys like me. I was also recently talking to a guy that has played and coached in Indy Ball. Asked him some advice and what he thought my chances might be. He told me zero. I definitely don’t accept that. I don’t have a number in mind but I’ll say that I think my chances lie at greater than zero, however small. I like hearing stuff like that though. It makes me want to work a little bit harder 😉
Paul, it’s been great to chat, thanks very much for taking the time to do this. We’ll be following and supporting you all the way.